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City Hall open house scheduled for Jan. 9

January 4, 2012

Although much of Hood River City Council meetings of late have been focused on issues related to expansion plans at Walmart, other business has continued to be addressed which affect local citizens.

During the Dec. 27 meeting, vacancies on the budget committee, plans to hold a public open house at the newly refinished City Hall and potential changes to the city's Urban Renewal Agency were all discussed. Below are additional details on each.

Open House

Carpets have been laid, wallpaper is about to be hung and tiles are being nestled into place on the front steps of City Hall.

With final touches now almost complete, the renovated building is slated for a public open house Jan. 9. Refreshments will be served, but according to the somewhat serious City Administrator Bob Francis, "no red punch will be served" on those brand-new carpets.

Urban Renewal

In most other municipalities in Oregon, the duties of administering urban renewal projects fall to city councils or county commissions. The City of Hood River has been an exception to that rule by maintaining a separate Urban Renewal Agency that has operated independently of council.

On Dec. 27, the Hood River City Council continued a discussion on assuming the responsibilities of the current city urban renewal agency.

Both Mayor Arthur Babitz and several councilors expressed their desire to ensure closer ties to the council as well as providing for a new structure in which to develop representational advisory boards for each area. The city's URA includes three separate zones: downtown, the waterfront and the Heights.

In attendance at the Dec. 27 meeting, Port of Hood River representative Hoby Streich sought clarification as to the council's interest in that change. Both the downtown URA and the waterfront URA bodies' decisions will affect port-owned property and finances.

Streich also provided specifics on a letter to council in which the port offered support for the possible change in governing structure, while expressing its desire to maintain representation on any new URA.

The council directed staff to obtain further details on the process to undertake URA responsibilities and to seek additional information.

City Budget Committee

With the new fiscal year budget draft due for initial review beginning in April, Francis reviewed pending vacancies on the city's budget committee.

Two of the previous committee members, Ross Brown and Patricia Gouch, have indicated they would like to continue their appointments. Gouch's term expired in June 2011 and Ross' is set to expire in June of 2012.

The remaining four members have either already resigned, moved onto other positions or do not wish to be re-appointed for the upcoming budget cycle - leaving four vacancies seeking volunteers.

"We are looking for people that have some knowledge of budgeting, but it isn't essential," said Francis. "But, they should be interested in the budgeting process and making tough recommendations." The committee meets approximately weekly from April until the budget passes in late June. The candidates must be residents within the city and terms last three years. Current meetings have been scheduled for Wednesday evenings from 6-7:30 p.m. Committee members work alongside city council members.

For details contact City Recorder Jennifer Gray at 541-387-5212.

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