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City's 2013 accomplishments set stage for important goals

Jan 17, 2014

By The News-Register Editorial Board

McMinnville City Council certainly earned good grades for its work in 2013. During its annual goal-setting session last weekend, members reflected on the past year and set the table for 2014.

The council stuck some major feathers in its cap during 2013. In June, the council approved a Transient Lodging Tax, which went into effect Jan. 1. In July, after years of planning, the council adopted the city’s first Urban Renewal program. A previously approved Northeast Gateway project, itself an ambitious plan, was incorporated into the Urban Renewal project.

These developments will be high-profile programs in 2014 and beyond, helping to strengthen McMinnville’s livability for years to come.

The room tax is expected to raise about $400,000 annually for visitor services, plus about $100,000 for the city’s general fund, and those numbers will grow over time. The council should be quick to name its advisory committee for consideration of plans for 2014 projects.

Council members expressed a sense of urgency about moving ahead with Urban Renewal planning.

Urgency is not an adjective often associated with the current council, which tends toward slow and methodical policy decisions. That pace can be frustrating at times, but we are mindful of past councils moving too quickly on important matters. Still, the city needs to move aggressively on its 2014 goals, which now include the need to replace longtime City Manager Kent Taylor before his end-of-year retirement.

The council should open more avenues of communication with residents. A 2013 goal stated, “Initiate an information & outreach program on city fiscal issues,” which could be extended to more areas of city government. That may happen naturally when council meetings are televised on McMinnville Community Media, an idea born in 2009. Back then, McMinnville was one of three of Oregon’s 25 largest cities not televising council meetings. Last year, the council renewed its working agreement with MCM, and its goal-setting document indicates that meeting broadcasts will begin this month.

Transportation issues will be at the forefront of the council’s 2014 agenda. One goal involves putting a transportation bond on the November ballot; another focuses on needs for the airport as the council works to update the five-year plan and strengthen its relationship with the airport commission.

The council also wants to budget for an information systems manager.

All in all, it was a year of significant city council accomplishments. Looking forward, however, the council should raise the speed limit a bit on fine-tuning those programs and other goals for full realization.

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