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Community members weighed in on a potential charter amendment at Monday's council meeting

PMG FILE PHOTO  - The West Linn City Council again discussed a ballot measure to amend language in the city charter regarding the structure of the City's legal services at a business meeting Monday, July 8. The West Linn City Council again discussed a ballot measure to amend language in the city charter regarding the structure of the City's legal services at a business meeting Monday, July 8.

Unlike previous discussions on the matter, this one was rather short as the council decided to hold off on further deliberation until its July 22 meeting.

Though the council redefined the structure of the City's legal services in June, certain councilors have pushed for a charter amendment, further cementing the new structure which revokes all power of the city manager over attorneys and other legal advisors to the City.

City Attorney Tim Ramis will present to the council two potential ballot measures at the July 22 meeting.

One member of the public gave testimony in support of a charter amendment at the meeting.

"There is no reason to delay this decision tonight," Karie Oakes said. "I look forward to a day when there is no assistant city attorney under the office of the city manager."

Oakes believes that this structure will give more power to the citizens, who have more power over the council than they have over the city manager, she said.

Council President Teri Cummings read into the record a letter from two other West Linn residents, Ed and Roberta Schwarz. The Schwarzs were also in favor of a charter amendment.

"This is an important amendment to the West Linn charter which will clearly define that the city council, not the city manager, has authority over all legal services provided to the City," the Schwarzs wrote.

The council invites the public to give further comment on the amendment at the July 22 meeting.

Ballot measures concerning this same issue have gone before the voters twice before in the last 10 years. In 2013, citizens passed a measure altering the legal services language in the city charter to allow a city attorney to report to the city manager.

In 2017, some council members were against the charter's new language, which they thought gave city staff too much authority over the City's legal services. They drafted another measure to change the language again, an effort which was ultimately turned down by voters.

Councilor Rich Sakelik and Cummings want the proposed charter language stronger than what was proposed on the 2017 ballot, which they did not support because it gave the city manager some authority over legal services.

At Monday's meeting, the council also adopted a contract renewal with the county to continue using adult and juvenile offender work crews for park maintenance.

Councilor Jules Walters opposed the continuation of offenders working for the parks department.

"I think a lot of people who are incarcerated and participating in these work service programs have been so because they couldn't pay their fees and this contributes to the vicious circle of poverty and incarceration and I don't think it's appropriate for a municipality or any government agency to use that type of labor just to save money," Walters said.

The contract states that the City will pay $425 per day for a crew of four or more working to remove invasive species in the City's parks and natural areas. Though the contract does not specifically state how many people may work in each crew and how many hours they would work each day, leaving the hourly pay for workers ambiguous.

The contract adopted by the council Monday allows the City to keep using these services for one year with the yearly renewals possible for the next three years.


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