City to sell 9th Avenue riverfront property

Sean C. Morgan

The Sweet Home City Council reached a consensus during its regular meeting on May 23 to list its Ninth Avenue property for $349,000 with Wendi Melcher of Heritage NW Real Estate.

The 1.82-acre property, which formerly housed Public Works maintenance and the Water Treatment Plant, is located at 1730 9th Ave., overlooking the South Santiam River.

The Linn County assessor’s office lists the property’s real market value at $302,000.

The city reached out to all local real estate agencies, said City Manager Ray Towry. Melcher was the only one to respond. She agreed to list the property for a 6-percent commission.

The Water Treatment Plant has been demolished, but the property still has several buildings, including an office building.

The property is for sale as is, said City Manager Ray Towry. A purchaser may wish to demolish one or more of the structures, although some may be useful as storage space.

“We’re open to potential buyers if they have other thoughts on how to use the property,” Towry said, taking advantage of its location next to the river.

Currently, it is zoned low-density residential, he said, and some possible uses, such as high-density housing, may require “spot zoning.”

Present at the meeting were Susan Coleman, Lisa Gourley, Mayor Greg Mahler, Dave Trask, James Goble and Diane Gerson.

Ryan Underwood was absent.

In other business, the council:

– Reached a consensus on a new evaluation process for the city manager.

The council discussed various options during its regular meeting on May 9 and finalized the process last week.

The evaluation will begin with a self-evaluation by the city manager followed by a “pre-round-table” evaluation by the council, a round-table discussion and a scored post-round-table evaluation.

“It’s a very fair process,” Towry said, and he has a handshake agreement with the council to give it a shot.

The council was scheduled to evaluate the city manager after six months. Towry started working in Sweet Home in mid-November.

– Voted to continue its community grant program. The Budget Committee Thursday approved $5,000 for grants to fund the program in the next fiscal year, July 1 to June 30, 2018.

Applications for the next grant cycle are due between June 1 and June 30. The council will award grants in July. A second cycle runs from Dec. 1 to Dec. 31, with grants awarded in January.

Grants are available to local nonprofit groups “to assist with their efforts for the betterment of the community of Sweet Home.”

Applicants must provide a documented benefit to the residents of Sweet Home. An organization may receive only one grant award per calendar year.

In a special grant cycle in February and March, the council requested that grants not exceed $500. The council may set different grant amounts annually. The grants are disbursed as reimbursements.

For more information about the grant program, call the city manager’s office at (541) 367-8969 or stop by City Hall, 1140 12th Ave.

– Approved an agreement with the Oregon Department of Transportation to pass through a grant for $190,000 to the Sweet Home Senior Center’s Dial-A-Bus service. The city will provide $90,000 in matching funds.

– Following a public hearing, held the first and second readings of an ordinance amending the Comprehensive Plan’s economic development policies based on the recently adopted Sweet Home Economic Opportunity Analysis.

The purpose of the EOA was to ensure that the city has an adequate supply of buildable land to meet needs for employment growth in the city – primarily in manufacturing.

New plan policies and objectives replace those from the 2003 Comprehensive Plan.

Following a third reading, the council may adopt the ordinance during its regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. on June 13.

– Voted 4-2 to approve a resolution updating the city’s purchasing policy, adding “festival event managers” to a list of exemptions from bidding requirements for personal services contracts.

Under the policy, the city may enter into a contract for services requiring specialized expertise without a formal bid process for amounts less than $5,000.

For amounts more than $5,000 but less than $25,000, the city must obtain three quotes. For more than $25,000, the city must follow a formal bid process.

Goble and Gerson voted no on the resolution.

With purchases under $5,000, something needs to be in place to keep the city from choosing one person over and over, “the good ol’ boy way,” Goble said. “We as a city should always be looking for the best job at an average price. The fact that two Aministration and Finance (Committee) members voted against it should say something.”

– Approved a change to the salary schedule increasing the pay for the community and economic development director position.

A 30-day nationwide recruitment process for the position yielded a handful of applicants, Towry said. Of those selected for interviews, three withdrew prior to the interview process. The final two withdrew after interviews were completed.

The Administration, Finance and Property Committee evaluated the salary schedule and recommended a new salary schedule that would better attract a pool of qualified applicants, Towry said. The new schedule pays $6,419 to $7,508 per month. The position, previously the community development director, had a range of $5,703 to $6,671 per month.