Decision 2014: Mount Angel council – It’s a matter of money

October 2014 Posted in News

By Brenna Wiegand

Most cities face the same basic issues and most of those boil down to money – or lack thereof. Mount Angel Mayor Andy Otte, who’s running unopposed, and city council candidates on the Nov. 4 ballot know they face challenges in building an adequate tax base.

Terms are expiring for councilors Karl Bischoff, Theresa Kintz and Ray Eder. Bischoff and Eder are seeking reelection; also on the ballot are Matthew Eagles and Don Fleck.

Drawing business to town, prioritizing, coming up with ways to better the community that don’t cost money and getting creative about funding projects that do will be on the next council’s plate.

Earlier this year, the council adopted a comprehensive financial management policy to help guide the decision-making process. It can be found on the city website.

“The City needs additional revenue to fund even basic administration and relieve the burden of these functions from the utility funds,” Mount Angel City Administrator Eileen Stein said. “The city is not in a position to fund the infrastructure improvements envisioned in master plans.”

Questions facing the council will include: Should parks come before plumbing or policing? How can the city attract businesses that will boost its bottom line without compromising the council’s vision for the city? How far should the city push beautification efforts – and by whose definition of beautiful?

There’s a price to pay for the charm of a town with history; namely, aging infrastructure and the crumbling of its prized historic buildings, alongside the need to development family amenities.

“City buildings and park facilities are in poor shape and need repair or replacement,” Stein said. “Phase I of Ebner Park will be completed this fall, but there are other needs in the park that won’t be improved like the softball field fencing, lighting and the basketball court. Having a half-done park will diminish community pride in even the new improvements.”

Other area’s needing attention include the public restroom next to the downtown gazebo. The restroom, Stein said is functionally obsolete and not ADA compliant, and City Hall which suffers similar ills.

“Private properties in town are deteriorated and in need of repair, especially along Railroad Avenue, (and) streets and sidewalks in need of infill or replacement,” Stein added, saying some of downtown’s most prominent buildings have become eyesores.

“The city is in sore need of strong planning documents,” she said. “…but just this task alone is a major undertaking and the city has very little dedicated community development staff to pull off major development and planning endeavors.”

In the adjacent columns are the candidates comments in their own words.

Ray Eder

Ray Eder

RAY EDER

Age: 55
Family: Ray and his wife Patti have four daughters and five grandchildren.
Education: Gervais High School; Blue Mountain Community College
Occupation: Farmer
Public Service: Mount Angel City Council

Mount Angel is a close-knit community. There is a lot of history here and people in town know most people.

Even after eight years (on Council) I feel I have more to give. I am proud of what the council has done in that time. I enjoy working with the other Council members and staff on the issues facing Mount Angel.

In the last couple of years we have done more with the streets and sidewalks than the whole eight years I was on Council. I am proud of that accomplishment. Urban renewal was brought before the city before and failed. It might be for cities if it is presented correctly. There are cities out there that extended themselves on this issue and have gotten themselves into trouble. As for Mount Angel, I don’t know if it would benefit or not.

The city is strong financially and we want to remain that way. In order for us to update our infrastructure – storm water, water lines and sewer lines – we know for a fact that there will be rate increases to offset them.

The city is not responsible for private property structures. (There was a grant that) was a bonus for the city and business owners that took advantage of it. Hopefully we will be successful on additional grants.

We are for the most part a conservative Council and I hope we remain that way. We don’t need to go out on a limb financially and then try to figure out how to pay for it.

As for City Hall, it is not obsolete. It’s a functional building that fits our needs at the present time.

We are always receptive to more businesses relocating to Mount Angel. One of the problems is we are too far off the I-5 corridor as are most other cities. The enterprise zone hopefully will be a tool to draw business here.

Don Fleck

Don Fleck




DON FLECK

Age: 60
Family: He and his wife Nann have five daughters and 11 grandchildren
Education: Kennedy High School, Clackamas Community College and fire service-related classes
Occupation: 38 years in fire service with Mount Angel and Salem (retired in 2007 as captain); retired in 2013 as Mount Angel Fire Chief. Owns Safety & Compliance, a consulting business.
Public Service: City Council

People who live here love our community; those who don’t live here would like to.

My main focus will be trying to get out of the economic slump and continuing to move the community in positive directions.

I think it’s already started with some of the new businesses that have come into town recently. The big issue is going to be to make and keep our community viable.

There’s a new antique mall in town; the event center is open again; we’re starting to see some housing come back. …I think we need a grocery store in this community – those are the kinds of things that are going to sustain the community over time.

During my last 10 years as Mount Angel Fire Chief I wrote over $1 million in successful grants. I think we can do it at the city level as well.

It seems like people are always complaining about water system and pressure and that kind of thing. One of the issues I’d like to look into is getting grants to put in a system that will help increase the pressure, similar to what we have now but a lot larger. Like a well pump system; a tower pressurized and filled with water.

I think people are going to be the ultimate decider on what services they want or don’t want and then it’s my job to make that happen.

The changes proposed in the City charter will cause us to have to do a little bit of work in catching everything up, but that is work that should be done anyway.

Matthew Eagles

Matthew Eagles




MATTHEW EAGLES

Age: 39
Family: Married to Dr. Keirsten Eagles
Education: PhD PPA candidate, MBA, MPA, MEd, CHRM
Occupation: Eagles Consulting, most aspects of business administration
Public Service: President, Saint Mary’s Estates Homeowners Assoc.; attends public meetings; has crafted policy for boards and advised on campaigns.

I believe my experience would bring a unique perspective that does not exist on the council to date; that of an academic who has had the honor of working for all three sectors – public, private and not-for-profit.

Mount Angel has real fiscal challenges. Its residents are slightly older than the rest of Oregon. Its homes have a value far less than the Oregon norm and its citizens earn far less than the medium income. We have a large number of our population employed through agricultural businesses, about four times that of other Oregon communities, and this focus means that policies should reflect not only the affluent business owner but likewise the worker in the field who enables the business to flourish.

While we have a coveted Oktoberfest that has rightly earned us a positive reputation far and wide, we do little to support the heritage of the almost 30 percent of the populace of Hispanic descent, missing out on an opportunity for citizen involvement, engagement and potential business gains …diversity is the key to growing businesses and drawing communities closer together. This is what leads to profits and enabling others to move into the middle class.

I approach all issues with the lens of one who has worked in private business for over 20 years – that and its accompanying MBA through my direct studies in adult education and training, my leaning toward leadership and public management and my desire to focus on the public first.


Karl Bischoff

Karl Bischoff


KARL BISCHOFF

Age: 38
Family: One daughter
Education: Silverton High School; Chemeketa Community College
Occupation: Republic Services Inc.
Public Service: City Councilor, Park and Tree Board, Mount Angel Fire District

When local issues come up, little or big, I always have my two cents to offer. I enjoy working out problems. We all have busy lives, but giving a little more time than I thought I had to give gives me a sense of accomplishment.

Mount Angel has always been special because of its people – neighbors, business owners, co-workers, family and friends. Just running to the market for a gallon of milk and you can end up catching up with a long-lost farmer friend you haven’t seen since spring. Or walk up the hill in the evenings and see half a dozen other couples trying to shed the same couple of pounds you found during the Christmas season. And just listening to the Zollners during O’fest reminds me of just how blessed I am to be part of this community.

We have financial issues like every city. I wish we could fix it all and have a more beautiful town than ever in four years but the reality is that we must spend wisely. Not many of us can buy what we want when we want it. Prioritizing our monies is essential in a small town.

Prioritizing our monies is essential in a small town. Having a strong basic infrastructure is most important.

I don’t believe in skimping on law enforcement. I trust and support our local law enforcement incessantly and will always give them the tools they need to protect us.

Mount Angel is a desirable place to live. We just need to make it easier for people to come, build – and stay.


Andy Otte

Andrew Otte

ANDREW OTTE

Age: 47
Family: He and his wife Shelley have two children
Education: University of San Francisco; St. Mary’s College of California
Occupation:  Communications, risk management for Bank of America
Public Service: City Council, Mount Angel Fire District

I enjoy talking about issues facing the City and like being part of a great team that is always trying to find ways to improve and better the community.

The financial management policy developed this year gives us a valuable tool as we move forward. The revenue streams for Mount Angel are limited and … the City faces millions of dollars in needed and recommended infrastructure repairs and improvements in the short and long term.

(We need to address) the cost of this infrastructure work weighed against the reality that the basic services provided by the City are not self-funding as in many other cities. …making sure we have a better understanding of potential challenges with storm water is a priority.

Mount Angel has been fortunate in past year to have Shiloh Water and the new antique mall come to town. However, in that same time we have also seen business close their doors … for businesses to survive they need the local and greater communities to support and patronize them.

Updating the development code has been on my “to do” or “wish” list since I was elected to the council. The challenge is in the time, resources and money needed to make it happen. Land use in Oregon is often a very complicated discussion and my hope is we can update the Mount Angel code to be less complicated. Urban renewal needs to be part of the conversation here. It’s not designed to be the yellow brick road for all things wrong, but it is a tool worth considering for Mount Angel’s toolbox.

The physical City Hall building is old and our goal is to start the planning, talking and research necessary to determine the best path the City to pursue with respect to that building.

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