CANNON BEACH — Although the Cannon Beach City Council inched a little closer Tuesday night to supporting a school on property it intends to buy south of town, it delayed until August consideration of a resolution officially providing that support.

The discussion focused on a portion of a proposed resolution, written by the city’s staff, that directs the staff to negotiate a memorandum of understanding between the city and a citizens task force trying to develop a charter school called the Cannon Beach Academy.

The memorandum would describe the city’s and academy’s roles and responsibilities in developing a school. It also would establish “benchmarks” to enable the city and public to “measure progress” toward its construction.

City Councilor Melissa Cadwallader reminded the council that the resolution for support, originally requested by Councilor Sam Steidel, was to simply be a statement of support for the school. Steidel was out of town and didn't attend the meeting.

“I think it’s premature to direct staff to negotiate a memorandum of understanding,” Cadwallader said, adding later that the council needed a “concept among ourselves about what we want” before a memorandum is written.

But City Manager Rich Mays said that “showing support” was a vague phrase. “We have no idea what 'support' means,” he added.

A memorandum could be simple at first and updated later on, said City Councilor Nancy Giasson. It would sort out who would pay for projects.

“I don’t want to pay for something that would eventually be included in building a school,” she said.

Giasson also said she wanted an additional clause added to the resolution that confirmed the city would not use city funds to build or operate a school or to financially support any organization that will build or operate a school in Cannon Beach.

Mayor Mike Morgan pointed out that the memorandum could be developed later, and the council could still adopt the resolution.

Cadwallader also questioned whether the task force was a legitimate nonprofit organization that the city could negotiate with. At that, Phil Simmons, who heads the task force, showed the council papers indicating the group had registered as a nonprofit with the state. However, it is still awaiting a 501(c)3 status from the federal Internal Revenue Service.

An application for a charter school will be submitted to the Seaside School District in mid-October, and a response is expected next spring, he said.

The council also considered a “purpose statement” that explained what it wanted to do initially with the 55-acre site where the school might go. The statement said that the council intended to annex the forested property into the city limits, allow some timber harvesting, evaluate the site’s suitability for a school and essential public facilities, evaluate the feasibility of a plan to develop a school there, prepare a master plan and bring some or all of the site into the urban growth boundary.

After discussing the proposed resolution and purpose statement, the council decided to send both to the city staff to revise the documents. Councilors also said they wanted to wait for Steidel to return in August to vote on them, since he initially proposed them.

In other business, Mays said that the city's finance director, Renee Sinclair had resigned. In her resignation letter, she told Mays that she wanted to explore a different profession and was going to work as an adjunct professor. However, the letter did not say where she was working.

Mays said the city had hired the Local Government Personnel Institute, of Salem, to conduct a workload analysis and review of the city’s finance department. The organization will recommend whether the city needs a full- or part-time finance manager and will look at the division of duties previously conducted by Sinclair.

The council also:

• Approved an amendment to the city’s comprehensive plan that allows annexation of property into the city limits that is not already within the city’s urban growth boundary.

• Approved a contract with the Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce that requires the city to pay the chamber $113,880 to operate the Visitor Information Center.

• Approved allocations totaling $259,600 to eight organizations from the city’s tourism and arts fund. Those receiving grants were the Cannon Beach Arts Association, Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce, Cannon Beach Gallery Group, Cannon Beach Children’s Center – Savor Cannon Beach event, Cannon Beach History Center & Museum, Coaster Theatre, Friends of Haystack Rock – Yoga Festival, and the Tolovana Arts Community.

The grants were recommended by the city’s tourism and arts commission. The organizations proposed arts-related projects that are expected to bring in overnight tourists from more than 50 miles away. Funds come from a portion of the city’s lodging taxes.

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