City & Government, Community, Cottage Grove

Ice storm financial tally: More than $1.5m for Cottage Grove

COTTAGE GROVE – When discussing the expenses the January ice storm has caused the City of Cottage Grove, public works and development director Faye Stewart began by telling the council, “I’m glad you’re all sitting down.”

From Jan. 13-Feb. 29, there were 4,142.75 hours logged by City staff, which Stewart said equates to just shy of $120,000. But the “big number” discussed was the contracted expenses from Jan. 13-March 11 – a whopping $1,584,690.50.

According to Stewart, a Eugene-based staff member of congresswoman Val Hoyle, he believes the federal government will declare an emergency, which would allow the City to receive a 75%-100% reimbursement for its expenses related to the ice storm. This reimbursement would probably not be given to the City during its current fiscal year, though.

As of March 11:

• There’s been 749 dump truck loads of brush removed and taken to “Mount Brushmore” and 540 loads of wood chips have been chipped.

• All tree trimmings and safety hazards on City streets and roadways have been removed, excluding alleys, which should be addressed this week.

• The golf course is about 80% cleaned up, and Stewart said it might reopen on  March 22.

Stewart said the best place for folks who are looking for firewood right now is the golf course parking lot, and the best place to pick up wood chips is the Row River Water Treatment Plant. He added that the City intends to close the drop site for debris at Bohemia Park on March 25.

City funds a mixed bag

Finance director Roberta Likens provided the council with a mid-year (8 month) financial grade report on March 11, which showed that all funds are meeting or exceeding the expectations – except for the general fund and the industrial park fund.

The data collected shows how the ice storm has affected expenses. For example, the golf course operations has spent 90% of its annual budget, and street maintenance spent 170% of its annual budget. Likens added that, like Stewart, she is hoping FEMA reimburses the City after making a formal declaration of emergency.

She also said the industrial park fund is “anticipating additional revenue from the sale of property, which is actively being pursued, and if the property is not sold, an interfund loan will be necessary to pay the debt. The fund is being closely monitored.”

Report suggests delaying parks effort

In other news, after performing a study to gauge community feedback on the potential for a South Lane Parks and Recreation District, students from the University of Oregon’s Real World Lane County class presented their findings to the council. The students said that although 67% of the 339 respondents were likely to support this recreation district, only 44% were willing to pay for it.

The students suggested the South Lane Parks and Recreation District steering committee push this initiative to the May 2025 ballot instead of this coming November’s ballot. They also suggested the steering committee hone in on a public education campaign as well as create a business plan.

“The steering committee did decide to wait for the May 2025 ballot mainly for the reasons that the U of O group discussed,” said Samantha Duncan, steering committee member. “It gives us more time. We were set back quite a bit by the ice storm.”

Duncan said the steering committee will also be meeting with the City of Creswell soon to discuss expanding the boundary beyond the South Lane School District to incorporate Creswell into the boundary.

Also: The Ziply Fiber franchise agreement discussion, which began at the Feb. 26 meeting, continued to deliberate Ziply’s request to not have to be underground where existing overhead utilities exist.

Ultimately, council directed staff to move forward in creating Ziply’s franchise agreement without changing the development code, meaning things will stay underground where they are already underground, and it would be OK for Ziply to operate above ground where there are already poles in place.



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