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Comment on “Why is The Water System Building Our City Hall”

Since building a home in Manzanita twenty years ago, I’ve seen inflation increase 65%and an increase in Tillamook County property taxes of 76%. Some of the increase is the result of property tax levies both local and county wide for special interests such as Library, Tillamook County Bonds, School Bonds, Tillamook County Community College, North County Recreation District (Pool).
Meanwhile Manzanita City staff has increased 78% from 9 to 17.
There’s more property tax increases on the way with growing needs for streets, water, storm sewer, water tower repair, heath building.
Meanwhile resident population has remained about the same and short term rentals(STR) have increased dramatically, accounting for up to 65% of the city budget. Past City Councils did not use STR qualification rules strictly in order to add more STRs to further expand revenues.
The higher ups say property tax increases are restricted and STR funds have therefore become a primary source of funding the City.
As a regular resident citizen, it seems like the tail is wagging the dog. All the increased revenues support short term renters while the atmosphere of a nice village is being ignored.
City higher ups wanted a new City Hall building. The first overly large and expensive plan was voted down by voters by a 68% margin. And the City of Manzanita has been raiding the water fund to pay for consultants and loan debt to purchase the Underhill property.
Basically, our City Council has not been financially prudent. They are volunteers. They are well meaning. Fortunately, in a narrow sense, they have to balance a budget. But they don’t seem to care where the money comes from or the opportunity cost of what is sacrificed in the process. Their decisions unwittingly are inflating future taxes by
– Transferring water funds through a manufactured consultant process to apply water funds to current uses. This virtually guarantees future water sewer rate hikes and other new monthly utility fees.

– They’ve encouraged development while not making developers carry the full weight of the costs of their developments. System development charges were not regularly increased for years and the effects of short term rentals on parking, neighbors, police , trash were ignored.

– Taking on largely unnecessary City Hall project, the City didn’t keep the building from leaking so mold developed. So the higher ups decided it was better to indebt the City $10 million or more than properly maintain a city building. The plan was justified as a move out of the tsunami zone when construction at the old City Hall site was already out of the tsunami zone. Frankly, I think we should have maintained the building and saved money for true infrastructure needs for the citizens.

Like many public projects, somebody gets an idea and then manipulates parties to justify it. The Underhill site was originally pitched to renovate the existing building as City Hall. Once owned, the building was deemed unusable and a new dream for a new building was hatched. That few need to go to City Hall, especially at a commercially useful visible site is never debated. Meanwhile, the higher ups overpay for Underhill, raid every source of funds, handcuff City financing and virtually guarantee future tax increases and new fees for services.
So when I read “Why is The Water System Building Our City Hall” I thought I found a fellow canary in a coal mine. The author will be criticized by some and ignored by the higher ups. The City calls him dangerous. But he is correct and when taxpayers realize what has been going on, it will be too late.
Fact is, I suspect, many City Council members and City Managers, have an selfserving view of city revenues and expenses. Projects are approved on an ad hoc basis and any source of money will do. Reductions in City staff or expenses to save for future needs? Well that just doesn’t happen. One day the chickens will come home to roost. Meanwhile, the higher ups will congratulate each other on slipping another $191,000 in water funds or $500,000 in timber sales past the public.
Bottom line is we will probably get a City Hall we didn’t need , the City coffers will be depleted and City Council will seek higher taxes and fees for the projects they did not reserve revenues to fund. Sorry to see this happen in our nice little village.
Will Stone