By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

Panel laying groundwork for tourism grants

Erin Stephenson told the council the committee has created a timeline and set of criteria for awarding grants to non-profits for the promotion of tourism and tourism facilities.

She said the committee will begin accepting electronic-only applications Aug. 15 and continue accepting them through Sept. 30. By the end of October, she said, it plans to submit recommendations to the city council.

The city's new lodging tax ordinance requires that 70 percent of the proceeds be spent promoting tourism. The rest goes into city coffers.

Stephenson, co-owner of Third Street Flats, said implementation has gone smoothly. “The city staff has done a tremendous job,” she said.

Despite fears to the contrary by some in the lodging industry, she noted, "It has had no negative impact on our business whatsoever.” She said the committee plans to disperse grants once a year.

City Manager Kent Taylor and Mayor Rick Olson told the council it appears the city will exceed its projection of the amount of money the tax will bring in. So it should have more to disperse than originally expected.

In other business, the council:

* Passed a measure placing a transportation bond on the November ballot. The city will ask voters to approve a 15-year bond for $24 million, carrying an estimated rate of 85 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

Projects on the list are intended to address safety and congestion, and to improve a number of residential streets in poor condition.

Councilors praised the plan, put together by an advisory committee. Several councilors mentioned that the city has waited some years to propose the bond, while the economy struggled through the recession.

Councilor Alan Ruden said the council has been well aware that streets were deteriorating during that wait, but “the timing just hasn't been right." He said, "Now it is. It just is.”

Other councilors agreed. “If we don't do this now, it's just going to cost more later,” said Councilor Scott Hill.

* Heard a presentation by Interim McMinnville Police Chief Matt Scales on a three-year strategic plan completed with the help of a consultant.

The department received a federal grant to fund the project, Scales said. He said it took about a year.

“We have not had a strategic plan in more than 20 years,” he told the council. He said the plan, intended to be achievable “with current personnel resources,” establishes four main goals — fostering an open and honest environment where effective communication can occur; effectively identifying and fulfilling the service needs of the community; effectively assessing and managing current technology to enhance growth and efficiency of services; and fostering good relationships with neighboring agencies.

Scales said it lays out the steps for achieving each goal, for example, changing the way the department conducts performance reviews and appointing liaisons to smaller departments, who might not be able to afford to send their officers to ongoing training.

* Passed a resolution naming city officials who are authorized to work with an annuity company, to disperse an annuity left to the "Yamhill City Library."

“The company discovered there is no entity called the Yamhill City Library in Yamhill County, Oregon," Taylor wrote in a memo to the council. "It is believed that Ms. Helland intended to name the McMinnville Public Library as her beneficiary.”

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