Oroville approves 1% increase in Ad Valorem tax

Railroad collector makes donations, including ‘speeder’ to Depot Museum

OROVILLE – The Oroville City Council sprinted through their Tuesday, Oct. 4 meeting with the main accomplishment of the night passing a one percent increase in the ad valorem taxes for the 2015 property tax revenues for the city and the EMS Levy.

One percent is the most the city can increase the tax they collect without going to a vote of the people, as set by state law. The measure would allow the city to collect the money to add to the city’s and the EMS District’s coffers. This revenue excludes additional revenue resulting from new construction, improvements to property, any annexations and refunds.

The motion to approve the measure was made by Councilman Jon Neal and received a second from Councilwoman Neysa Roley before being approved unanimously.

Under old business the council heard a short report on the city’s efforts to secure the old U.S. Border Patrol Station on Main Street. The station has been unoccupied ever since the federal agency moved into their new expanded station north of town.

“We’re still working on the application and hope to have it done as soon as possible,” said City Clerk JoAnn Denney.

Rod Noel, city superintendent of public works, said he was still working with the city’s engineer to close out the North End Water Reservoir that was constructed in order to both serve the new border patrol station and the north end water system.

“We may need to possibly contact our city attorney,” said Noel. “Until we get word that the project has been completed we can’t release the retainage.”

The airport project on the other hand is 100 percent complete, according to Noel. The project included crack sealing and seal coating the runway and painting new white lines markers on the runway.

“It is all good, all done, the airport looks great,” said Steve Johnston, the airport services manager, adding. “The airport is in great condition for the shape it is in.

Under old business, the council briefly discussed the Okanogan County Transportation and Nutrition Program.

“I think at this point we need to show our support,” said Councilman Neal.

“I’ll ask JoAnn to draft a letter of support,” said Mayor Chuck Spieth.

A new speeder is part of nearly 100 items donated to the Borderlands Historical Society for the Depot Museum. The speeder is on the front deck at the Depot and is inside a wood and glass enclosure. More of the items will be placed on display inside and outside the museum, according to Arnie Marchand, a member of the historical society. Marchand was at the Nov. 4 Oroville Council meeting to discuss happenings at the museum.
Gary DeVon/staff photo

Arnie Marchand, with the Borderlands Historical Society, reported that the Depot Museum had obtained a railroad speeder. Speeder were used for track maintenance and to move crews along the tracks. Marchand said he and Mike Sibley had built an enclosure for the speeder, which sits centered on the front deck in the center at the old Oroville Depot.

“The speeder is one of nearly 100 pieces that a railroad collector has given us – the value of the donation of the car alone is between $3500 and $4500. We are also putting up new railroad crossing signage at the south end of the caboose,” said Marchand.

Marchand added that next season’s display at the museum, which opens the second weekend in May to coincide with the community’s May Festival, will be the Okanagan Indians again. The display will include contributions being prepared by Okanagan Indians, as well as four native schools, including the Pascal Sherman School.

“The display will be one of transitions, like the advent of the horse and disappearance of wildlife. We have 15 schools, from Wenatchee to Penticton, that are wanting to do field trips here,” said Marchand. “We are also preparing the Magic Lantern show which will take place in February.”

Newly sworn in Oroville Police Chief, Todd Hill, requested the city allow him to test his officers for the corporal position.

“Right now I am the only supervisor we have and I’m land locked,” he said.

Mayor Spieth asked if promotion would be through the department.

Hill said it would be and that there is training available through the police academy covered by the state because the state considers it “mandatory training.”

Noel reported that some computer equipment run by the state Department of Natural Resources to sniff smoke in the air had been stolen.

“It’s a sorry situation when they steel stuff that is behind a lock gate… it’s a sign of the times I guess,” said Mayor Spieth.

The mayor also complimented the Chief Hill and the police department for their quick capture of another culprit that had stolen from a local business.

The next meeting of the Oroville City Council will be on Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. at the Oroville City Council Chambers located at 1308 Ironwood.