Response to Manzanita Financial Priorities

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Confusion. Fear. Half truths. In today’s world, we have seen these tactics used more and more. We have experienced the lies and half-truths said over and over until they become ‘fact’.

Recently, Randy Kugler threw out a bunch of numbers with little or no references. He mixes the Water Operating Funds and the General Funds which are operated separately with revenue received and cost outlays. He raises the fear of a water rate increase but fails to say that the last rate hike was in 2014. Nor did Mr. Kugler say that Cannon Beach is currently reviewing their water rate increases again with increases in 2018, 2021 and 2022. Nehalem just raised their water rates.

Cannon Beach Public Works Director Karen La Bonte said Tuesday: “As you know, our last rate increase for water and wastewater was March 20, 2018 which was three years ago. In order to keep up with the cost of maintenance on our infrastructure it is important that the utility rates stay on par to support those costs. Without doing periodic rate increases we can’t accomplish that.”
Kathleen Stinson, The Gazette June 4, 2021

He fails to tell you that the Manzanita water spending project is over a 10 plus year planning cycle. Nor did he mention that Cannon Beach has the same challenges with their water system infrastructure. (You can read more about Cannon Beach’s struggle with the cost of their water system infrastructure and the costly delays in decision making.)

Mr. Kugler goes on to say, ‘Total expenses to date to acquire the property and years of consultants and other professional services is now in excess of $2.1 Million.’ But he confuses it with throwing all the numbers together of land purchase with consultants and professional services. The land is a valuable asset, one of the last large parcels of land in the city limits. And we all know that prices for real estate have continued to increase since the City purchased the property in 2017.

Mr. Kugler goes on to say that Cannon Beach is getting a City Hall and Police Station for $1.2 million. Really?

“The City Council, during a meeting Tuesday night, authorized the city to borrow $4.6 million for the project, which is expected to cost $5.5 million. Lodging taxes will be used to pay off the loan.”
Nicole Bales, The Astorian February 2, 2022

As Mr. Kugler states, ‘It has been pointed out that the remodel of the CB Elementary School is not currently being planned for critical emergency services that need a class 3 or 4 seismic structural rating.’ This is because the old Cannon Beach school sits in the tsunami zone on Ecola Creek which feeds into the ocean. Their emergency and operating services will be washed away when the multimillion dollar building collapses.

Cannon Beach, like most towns, needs funding. They just put in play a 5% food and drink tax. This is in addition to the Transient Lodging Tax they make off of all those hotels. Mr. Kugler states without any facts that Manzanita will not receive any grants for the water system work. Based on what Mr. Kugler?

Large public capital outlay projects are always a challenge and the Manzanita project is no exception. Manzanita is looking at a similar self-funding strategy for the city facilities which in large part is funding driven by the Transient Lodging Tax, putting the tax burden on tourists. For us old timers, how many ballots cast before we built our fire station, water treatment plant or, even approving city budget funds for sidewalks on Laneda. More recently, we saw Seaside schools and Gearhart needing facilities but experiencing similar challenges at the ballot box.

It is time for Manzanita to tear down that old dilapidated eyesore of a structure, sitting at Underhill Plaza. Utilize the land for a smaller but more usable footprint city hall that reflects the beauty of our town. Put together a plan for land use for the community that offers worker housing (Manzanita Council just approved a tax abatement program with Tillamook County to help with taxes.) and a park for our Farmers Market and other community gatherings. Be a part of the conversation on August 29. (Go to the Manzanita website to sign up.)
Deb Tinnin