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Commentary: City takes close look at contracts

— On April 20, I was honored to attend a fundraising dinner for the yet to be built, Oregon Military Museum along with past mayors Les Cochenour and Robb Van Cleave.

We were there to receive a bronze sculpture commemorating the induction of Medal of Honor recipient, Loren Kauffman. I presented that statute to the Veterans Home on May 17 at a ceremony to honor Korean War veterans. Loren Kauffman, a resident of The Dalles, who died in combat before he could be awarded the medal, is the only Korean Medal of Honor winner in Oregon. What a wonderful event.

The Korean Consulate and a Korean musical group were in attendance, as well as the head of the Oregon Department of Veteran Affairs, Cameron Smith and Colonel Paul Fitzgerald, Commander of the 142nd Mission support Group at Portland Air National Guard. All veterans at the home were awarded the Korean Ambassador of Peace Medals.

April and May have been very active months. The Granada Block Development and Disposition Agreement was approved by the Urban Renewal Agency Board. It is a complicated, 63-page agreement that contains many issues of conditions, financing and timing which were discussed.

The agreement can be viewed as an attachment to the last Urban Renewal agenda found on the City of The Dalles web site along with a full recording, which anyone can download and listen to.

The developer has until Aug. 31 to get all finance and development requirements submitted to the City for approval to purchase the Granada, Recreation and Blue buildings.

Budget hearings began at City Hall on May 29 and finished the next day. The full budget and Budget Information Papers are also on the web. The budget committee is made up of the City Council and five members of the public.

The recommended budget will then be presented to the City Council. There is a separate Urban Renewal Agency budget also proposed which has been reviewed by a separate Urban Renewal budget committee.

Streets and development charges to land owners have been a major concern lately. In response to these concerns, a town hall was held Monday, May 6, at the Senior Center. Very important issues, which will influence many decisions the City Council has to make in the future, were discussed.

The topics included Local Improvement Districts, the street Capital Improvement Plan, rates and linear assessments imposed on residents or developers, as well as maintenance of underdeveloped streets. Generally, everything associated with street development charges, rates and how they are imposed was up for discussion.

The city has also been evaluating the many ways it contracts for services. Recently, the city council looked at the contract for Home at Last, the contract for tourist development with the Chamber of Commerce and the disbursement of monies received from Google in exchange for the enterprise zone granted. This is a specific effort to make the recipients and the city accountable for how monies are used and an effort to establish procedures for the future evaluation of what services are received in exchange for monies paid.

I have been in close contact with Rod Runyon, Wasco County Commission Chair, regarding how to improve communication between the city and the county. We have significant issues that require a closer working relationship than has existed in the past. These issues include roads, annexations, economic development, recreation and government. In the near future, we intend to convene a joint meeting of the full City Council and the full Board of Commissioners to discuss these and other issues.

You may contact me at SeLawrence1963@yahoo.com or 503-807-0724.

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