The City Council meeting was uncharacteristically well attended Monday, Sept. 23.

Seven property owners had received a letter from the city of Estacada stating that properties abutting the city’s water system would be required to connect to that system. The letter requested their attendance at the meeting.

Two of the property owners affected gave heated comments during the meeting’s public comment section.

Patty Allen said that years ago she got an estimate to see how much it would cost for her to go on city water. She was told it would run her $25,000-$30,000.

“You’re not going to get me on city water,” she told the council.

“Believe me, we don’t need it, we don’t want it,” said Milo Prokop, another affected property owner. “Every time someone screws up down here, needs money, where do you think they go? To the taxpayers.”

City Manager Bill Elliot said the city had received federal funding for water improvements, including a major upgrade in the water treatment plant.

That loan requires that the city comply with certain water codes. If the city does not meet those codes, it could face a non-compliance fee.

Elliott said that a few years ago it came to city officials’ attention that they were not in compliance with several loan requirements.

An ordinance that would bring the city back in compliance with those codes was submitted to the council.

That ordinance would require the seven properties abutting the city’s water system to connect to that system.

City Recorder Denise Carey said current codes require property owners within 100 feet of the system to connect to it. She noted that officials realized this would be expensive for those property owners. The proposed ordinance requiring only the properties abutting the system to connect to it affects far fewer people.

“That is the very least we thought we could do — if it’s there and it’s on your side. And that affects seven people,” Carey said.

“This is not an issue where the city is looking for money from our citizens. This is an issue of keeping in compliance with our loan from the USDA,” Elliott said.

Carey said that on average, the seven affected property owners would be responsible for about $6,000 in water system development charges and public works department employees fees for installing service and meters to the property line.

This figure does not include the cost of getting the water to the property.

Elliott said in a later interview that property owners would not actually have to use the water.

During the council meeting, Carey said as long as the city is working toward compliance with its loan requirements, the seven property owners could have years to pay for the necessary developments.

After some discussion, the council decided to send a second letter to the seven property owners explaining that the city would pay to install the water meter. With the city absorbing this fee, the property owners would be responsible for system development charges, which they may finance over 10 years.

This change brings the sum that property owners will be responsible for down considerably.

“I’m sorry we had to come together under such duress. This water main thing is a tough one. We’ll work together to find the right solution,” Councilor Sean Drinkwine told the crowd.

Petition to ban smoking in parks

In other business, citizen Shirley Burke told the council that over the past several weeks she has been gathering signatures to ban smoking in city parks.

“We’ve got cigarette butts everywhere,” she said of Wade Creek Park.

Burke gave the council a petition with about 80 signatures asking for an ordinance to ban smoking in all city parks.

Such an ordinance would allow the installation of “no smoking” signs in the city’s parks.

City grants funds to chamber

Councilor Rob Gaskill had said during a previous council meeting that the Chamber of Commerce was facing financial difficulties and had been forced to reduce staff hours.

“The Chamber of Commerce has done a bang-up job for lots of different things in our city,” Mayor Brent Dodrill said during the council’s discussion of the Chamber’s request for support.

“I think if anything really needs to be funded, this does,” Drinkwine said.

The council voted to give the Chamber up to $2,468.86 from the general fund contingency.

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