Tillamook County Board of Commissioners DENIES Oceanside Bid to Put Incorporation on Ballot; A respectful, urgent call for action …

by Jerry Keene, Oceanside Neighborhood Assoc. President
On Wednesday February 5th, the Tillamook County Board of Commissioners shocked many Oceansiders by denying us the opportunity to vote for (or against!) incorporation this spring.
While conceding we met all of the legal requirements, the Board summarily ruled that the proposed tax rate was “too low” to render the city economically feasible.  Before doing so, they neither discussed the general revenue and spending figures, nor even seemed aware of the explanatory budget notes in the materials provided to them.
It is unclear whether the Commissioners realized how much time and effort that hundreds of Oceansiders devoted to studying and understanding the ONA economic analysis, including the tax rate, before endorsing such a consequential measure.

We also wonder if they realize how disrespectful and condescending it was to deny Oceansiders (both supporters and opponents) the right to decide for themselves if the tax rate was “too low.”  This is that kind of disregard that prompted the petition in the first place. On Friday, Oceansiders United filed a Motion for Reconsideration based on the events listed below.  The incorporation hearing resumes on February 9, 2022.  The next few days offer a window of opportunity to alert the Commissioners of our reaction to their decision and to urge them to reconsider it.

We recommend that you send any emails by noon on Tuesday, February 8, 2022.  Even a sincere message of 2 or 3 sentences will help convey our community’s demand for the chance to choose our future.

The email addresses are:
David Yamamoto:     dyamamoto@co.tillamook.or.us
Erin Skaar:                eskaar@co.tillamook.or.us
Mary Faith Bell:         mfbell@co.tillamook.or.us,

Here is how the disappointing story of the  derailed Petition unfolded.

In October and November 2021, the ONA circulated a series of more than 30 email newsletters that explored and debated the pros and cons of forming a new City of Oceanside. Each one was opened and read by 300 to 400 Oceansiders within hours of being sent.

During that time, scores of Oceansiders accessed and read the 34-page ONA Incorporation Report, which included a 3-year budget based on information provided by the county’s own experts.

During the first week of December, between 100-150 Oceansiders discussed and debated incorporation in 6 hours of Zoom forums over 4 days, to prepare for a 5th meeting of final debates and a vote.

On December 11, 2021, over 200 registered ONA members attended a Special Meeting to vote.  They approved the Incorporation Report by a margin of 76%-24%.  They then voted to immediately endorse an Incorporation Petition by a margin of 62%-38%.

In less than two weeks (including Christmas week), more than 80 Oceanside registered voters rushed to sign a Petition requesting the opportunity to vote on the issue of incorporation at the May 17, 2022, election.

On January 24, the Petitioners (Oceansiders United) provided the Commissioners with a 112-page report detailing how they had done everything legally required to earn Oceanside the right to vote on incorporation. This included balanced revenue and spending projections for staffing and road work based on recommendations provided by the county’s own Public Works Director.

At hearings on January 26 and February 2, the Tillamook County Commissioners conceded that the Incorporation Petition satisfied all of the legal requirements to earn Oceansiders a vote on incorporation.

During nearly 10 hours of hearings over two sessions, the Commissioners raised no concerns and asked no questions about the proposed tax rate for the city.  It was only during the final hour that the tax rate was first questioned, after Petitioners were barred from further input.

In those final minutes, the Commissioners asked the County Treasurer to comment on the proposed budget. She protested that she had been away for a week and had not read the Petitioners economic report. (She missed the appointment Oceansiders United made to go over it with her in December.)  When pressed by the Commissioners to comment anyway, she skimmed the bare budget chart and offered that it was “a bit low”.  She cautioned that she was always “conservative” however, and also said that she saw “no red flags” in the budget.

The Commissioners subsequently moved to deny the Petition for an incorporation vote because the proposed tax of .80 per $1000 was “too low.”  They did not examine (or even mention) how much money that rate would generate based on Oceanside’s high property values. Another commissioner also briefly suggested that not enough money had been allocated to roads and public roads, contradicting the county Public Works Director’s own recommendation that the amounts budgeted were reasonable.

As a result, in a brief and cursory conversation, the Commissioners disregarded and dismissed a detailed economic analysis that hundreds of Oceansiders had studied, debated and approved over a period of weeks.
Commissioner Bell moved that the petition be denied based on “economic feasibility,” which passed unanimously.

On Friday, February 4, 2022, Oceansiders United hand-delivered a Motion for Reconsideration to the Commissioners offices.