City looks into possible bonds and getting ballot title draftedGEARHART - The city of Gearhart may soon be able to shut off its spigot to the Warrenton water supply.

The Gearhart City Council continued discussions Wednesday to end its dependence on high-priced water from Warrenton and become self-sufficient.

"We're looking at Aug. 26 as the deadline for getting a ballot title drafted," City Administrator Dennis McNally explained to the council about efforts to draft either a general obligation or revenue bond ballot measure for the Nov. 2 election to finance a water system in Gearhart.

According to Councilor Dianne Widdop, who acts as water commissioner, the bond measure would carry a substantial but necessary price tag.

"It's probably going to be about $5.75 million but could well be higher than that," she said. "Our agreement with Warrenton expired in June even though we continue to receive water from them. Warrenton is not happy we're planning to do our own water system."

Gearhart previously paid $5.39 to Warrenton for every 1,000 gallons of water used. Water costs increased almost 30 percent effective last month, according to Widdop, making water consumption a very expensive proposition for Gearhart residents.

"My water bill the last two months was about $100, and I didn't even use that much," commented Councilor Ed Tice.

"We had our work session (with the engineering firms) and looked through their draft design report," McNally said. "We also have to hire a bond attorney."

City Attorney William Canessa said councilors must decide what type of bonds will be issued, explaining that obligation bonds are usually repaid with property taxes while payment for revenue bonds would be made from water rates.

"I envision water rates going down if we use general obligation bonds, " Tice said. "Property taxes might go up, but those can be written off. Water bills would also go down, so that would help offset it, too."

Widdop said that in the past Gearhart had looked at possibly using Seaside water as an alternative to the high rates charged by Warrenton. "But there's not enough water in the Necanicum River to meet the needs of Seaside, much less Gearhart."

"There's lots of pieces of the puzzle to put together in a short time, " Mayor Kent Smith said of the proposed ballot measure.

Canessa agreed. "If you want to get it on the ballot in November, you folks need to get going on it."

Councilors unanimously voted to check out general obligation bonds and directed staff to hire a bond attorney as soon as possible.

In other action, Gearhart businessman Don Frank of Blue Gallery addressed the council about a noise complaint against his business July 4 during an art exhibition and band concert. He said he wanted to hold another event during Labor Day weekend.

"We believe these exhibitions are good for Gearhart and draw people into the city while also providing entertainment for locals," Frank said.

"I was told the volume of music was much too loud," Widdop replied. "It really had the merchants upset. We are a residential community. The idea here is not to attract tourism."

Councilors approved a special permit for the Sept. 4 exhibition with the understanding that Frank would monitor the loudness of the music and take appropriate action should the volume be excessive.

The council held over for the September meeting a discussion on vacating a portion of Spruce Street as requested by the Seaside School District.


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