During their meeting on Monday, Aug. 28, the Salem City Council unanimously approved a property purchase to add parking at the Salem Municipal Airport and rejected a repeal of the payroll tax.
Expansions at the Salem Airport, and a supplemental budget – APPROVED
Councilors unanimously approved a property purchase to expand parking at the Salem Municipal Airport, using an internal loan of $1.84 million from the city’s utility fund.
The funds will go to add parking spaces to support increased activity with the return of commercial air service, with flights on Avelo Airlines set to begin Oct. 5. Money will also be used to purchase two buildings for potential use as office space, maintenance or to lease out to a rental car agency.
The city owns the property at 2780 and 2790 25th St. S.E, but leases it to Carpenter Commercial Properties who subleases it to Hertz. The council voted to take over the lease from Hertz, which will add around 230 airport parking spaces.
The airport currently has 155 public parking spaces, Mark Bechtel, the city’s public works operations manager, said during the meeting.
“Our indications from the airline is that ticket sales are strong. One of the concerns we’ve had with the beginning of commercial air service is our supply of public parking at the airport,” he said.
The purchase from West One Automotive Group, which does business as Hertz, required that the city approve a supplemental budget. Major expenses include $1.4 million to purchase the property, $151,000 to construct a sidewalk and $200,000 to replace HVAC in the building.
Bechdel said it would cost an estimate $2.6 million to build a comparably-sized parking lot on existing airport property, making the council’s decision to buy an existing lot a less expensive option.
The city is expecting to pay a total of $285,000 a year for the loan, the lease and utilities, but expects to take in between $445,000 and $645,000 in revenue from the parking spaces and subleasing the buildings.
Both votes relating to the purchase passed unanimously.
“It makes sense, in my mind, if it costs more to build something new than to buy this. And to kind of bring the whole thing back into our ownership makes sense to me,” said Councilor Virginia Stapleton during the meeting.
Repeal of payroll tax – REJECTED
In a 6-3 vote, councilors rejected a motion to repeal the city’s new tax on worker wages during Monday’s meeting, meaning Salem voters will decide the issue in November.
The effort to repeal the tax was led by Councilor Julie Hoy. Councilors on both sides of the motion said they were voting in the best interest of rebuilding public trust. Those in favor of the repeal said it would signal that they heard those who spoke against the tax, while those who opted to send it to the November ballot said the community had asked for a chance to weigh in.
“We did our part, now residents have done their part, and now it’s time for the voters to vote. I think that if we don’t allow that process to play out, I think that that undermines trust, in my mind,” said Mayor Chris Hoy, no relation to Julie Hoy, during the meeting.
Read more about that decision here:
Southeast Salem road improvement – APPROVED
Councilors unanimously approved steps toward two southeast Salem road and pedestrian improvement projects.
The council approved acquiring the right of way for a stretch of Southeast Caplinger Road at Southeast Macleay Road Southeast to build a sidewalk, improve accessibility and add a pedestrian crossing with an island. Construction on the $1.6 million project is expected in 2025.
Councilors also approved acquiring property for pavement rehabilitation on Southeast Commercial Street, from Southeast Fabry Road to the Interstate 5 ramps, part of a $3 million project funded by the Salem Safety and Livability Bond.
West Salem apartment complex – APPROVED
Councilors voted to adopt the final order affirming the planning administrator’s approval of a 436 unit apartment complex in west Salem, which residents shared concerns about in previous meetings.
The city council approved the plans during their Aug. 14 meeting. Councilor Micki Varney, whose ward includes the proposed complex, was the sole vote in opposition both times.
During Monday’s meeting, Varney said she didn’t feel like she had enough opportunity to question the applicant during the city council’s discussion of the matter.
The Salem City Council meets Monday, Aug. 28, to discuss the purchase of parking spaces and additional buildings near the Salem Municipal Airport, a repeal of the employee-paid payroll tax and land acquisition for sidewalk and road repairs in southeast Salem.
READ IT: AGENDA
How to participate
The council meets Monday, Aug. 28, at 6 p.m. in-person at the city council chambers, 555 Liberty St. S.E., room 220, with the meeting also available to watch online. The meeting will be livestreamed on Capital Community Media’s YouTube channel, with translation to Spanish and American Sign Language available. Anyone may attend the meeting to listen or comment.
The public comment portion of the meeting takes place after opening exercises, such as roll call and the Pledge of Allegiance, and residents are invited to comment on any topic, whether it appears on the agenda or not. If a public comment does not relate to an agenda item, it may be saved for the end of the meeting.
To comment remotely, sign up on the city website between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Monday.
For written comments, email [email protected] before 5 p.m. on Monday, or on paper to the city recorder’s office at the Civic Center, 555 Liberty St. S.E., Room 225. Include a statement indicating the comment is for the public record.
Expansions at the Salem Airport, and a public hearing
Councilors will consider a property purchase to expand parking at the Salem Municipal Airport, with an internal loan of up to $1.84 million from the city’s utility fund. The money would be used to buy the property, pay taxes, cover closing costs, restripe the lot, add payment kiosks, do repairs and build sidewalks.
If approved, the funds would go to add parking spaces to support increased activity with the return of commercial air service, Josh Eggleston, chief financial officer, said in a memo.
The property, at 2780 and 2790 25th St. S.E., is owned by West One Automotive Group, Inc. The city is seeking to purchase the buildings and sublease the parking lot. Monday’s agenda also includes a $1.4 million sale agreement with the company for the council’s consideration.
“With the upcoming commencement of commercial air service at Salem Municipal Airport, additional parking space is required to meet the forecasted demand. Acquisition of the Improvements will immediately provide adequate parking at the Airport,” said Kristin Retherford, community and urban development director in a memo.
The city would repay the loan from the utility fund over 10 years, with an annual estimated payment of $210,610, according to Eggleston.
“The Utility Fund is in good fiscal health due to prudent financial management including the refinancing of outstanding debt, payoff of debt, and stable rate increases,” Eggleston said. State law allows the city to take 10 year loans for property acquisition and improvement.
The property includes around 250 parking spaces and two buildings, one 8,250 square feet and the other 3,540 square feet. The city would pay $123,217 per year on the lease and receive $97,879 back through a master lease on the airport property.
In January, the city council committed $2.4 million from the general fund to renovate the terminal for commercial service.
There will be a public hearing about the internal loan and purchase during Monday’s meeting. Councilors will be considering that and an additional $700,000 in unanticipated revenue from hotel taxes as a resolution for a supplemental budget in this fiscal year.
Repeal of payroll tax
Councilor Julie Hoy plans to put forward a motion to repeal the city’s payroll tax, which earlier this month gathered enough signatures to qualify for the November election.
“Repealing this ordinance will allow us to reset and take the time we need to bring the community together on what solutions to our budget crisis they support. Repealing the payroll tax ordinance will, I believe, be a first major step toward healing. While the looming budget deficit is bad enough… a trust deficit is an even bigger problem,” Hoy said in the motion.
Hoy seeks to avoid $220,000 in city spending to run the special election, she said.
Whether a repeal of the tax will stop the vote isn’t clear. That’s a matter of dispute between the city officials, who said the city recorder has until Sept. 7 to pull the measure off the ballot, and Marion County Clerk Bill Burgess, who said he’s obligated to conduct an election regardless.
In the draft ordinance, the city recorder said that to repeal the ordinance, it would sever the ordinance rather than send it to Marion County Elections.
Council President Virginia Stapleton, who is leading the campaign in support of the tax, on Tuesday sent Salem Reporter a statement from the committee opposing any council repeal of the tax.
“Every Budget Committee member, including Councilor Hoy, understands that the only way to keep city services fully intact in next year’s budget is through additional revenue,” she said.
If the council approves Hoy’s motion, the council would have its first reading of the repeal ordinance Monday night.
Southeast Salem road improvement
Councilors will consider taking steps forward for two construction projects in Southeast Salem.
Councilors will consider acquiring the right of way for a stretch of Southeast Caplinger Road at Southeast Macleay Road Southeast to build a sidewalk, improve accessibility and add a pedestrian crossing with an island.
The construction project is in the design phase, and is scheduled for construction in 2025. The estimated total project cost is $1.6 million, funded by the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Safe Routes to School Program with a city match from Transportation System Development Charges.
Councilors will also consider acquiring property for pavement rehabilitation on Southeast Commercial Street, from Southeast Fabry Road to the Interstate 5 ramps.
The project would make curbs compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and repair the pavement. The project estimate is $3 million, which includes improvements on a segment of Southeast Liberty Street between Southeast Mill Street and Southeast Trade Street. The project would be funded by the Salem Safety and Livability Bond, which voters approved in November.
West Salem apartment complex
On Monday, councilors will vote on whether to adopt the final order affirming the planning administrator’s approval of a 436 unit apartment complex in west Salem.
The city council held a public hearing for the complex on July 24, and extended the written testimony period. Residents shared their concerns about the planned removal of trees, accessibility issues and the impact to infrastructure and the local environment.
Councilor Micki Varney, whose ward includes the proposed complex, was the only councilor who voted against the approval. During the meeting, she said that based on the documents, she believes the applicant did not evaluate all potential alternatives for tree preservation and that the land wouldn’t support the extensive development.
Contact reporter Abbey McDonald: [email protected] or 503-704-0355.
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Abbey McDonald joined the Salem Reporter in 2022. She previously worked as the business reporter at The Astorian, where she covered labor issues, health care and social services. A University of Oregon grad, she has also reported for the Malheur Enterprise, The News-Review and Willamette Week.