What can a city do with an elementary school located in the tsunami zone? Cannon Beach residents could soon find out, as the city has budgeted a $665,000 loan for the purchase and remediation of the old Cannon Beach Elementary School site.
Staff recommended a significantly larger proposed budget Wednesday at the first budget committee meeting for the upcoming fiscal year. The budget includes acquisition of the former elementary school site and other capital projects.
The budget is up 31 percent from the current year, mostly due to transfers, loan proceeds and capital grants and projects, according to City Manager Brant Kucera’s report.
“I believe this budget represents the true costs of maintaining and improving city-owned assets that have been neglected in the past,” Kucera said in the proposal, adding that the city is “investing heavily in our future.”
The proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year is $19.7 million, compared to $14.6 million for this fiscal year.
Capital projects — like the City Hall renovation, water and sewer master plans, acquiring the old school property and constructing the proposed Fir Street pedestrian bridge — account for about three-fourths of the budget’s increase, Kucera said after the budget committee meeting.
The proposed budget includes $100,000 for the City Hall remodel, $135,000 for the master plans and $250,000 for the city’s RV park infrastructure project’s second phase.
Staff proposed a 7 percent water rate increase, 5 percent wastewater increase and 3 percent storm drain increase.
Staff also budgeted funds for a salary survey, computer upgrades, hiring a building official and purchasing a new police four-wheel drive vehicle.
The community programs department had a $63,000 decrease in expenses due to the Cannon Beach Children’s Center closing in April.
The city considered acquiring the elementary school property from the Seaside School District in 2013, when the school closed. However, the city and the Seaside school board did not reach an agreement on the cost until recently, Kucera said after the meeting.
“The site is one of the main entrances of the city and the city wants to improve it,” he said. “When you enter town, we want something we can be very proud of.”
Although the acquisition has been a “long-term plan for the city,” Kucera said the budget committee and City Council can decide whether or not to move forward with the purchase.
“We have not purchased anything,” Kucera said to the committee. “I have not signed a sales agreement.”
If the committee and council decide to acquire the site, potential uses for the elementary school property would be discussed during the city’s strategic planning, Kucera said.
The lack of “timely evacuation facilities” downtown would prevent a large meeting area from being built at the site.
However, if the city receives a state grant in fall to build the Fir Street pedestrian bridge, more options could be considered.