The Corvallis City Council on Monday night adopted a budget for the coming fiscal year after some last-minute wrangling over climate change and turned down a controversial land use proposal.
The council voted 8-0 to adopt the budget recommended by the Corvallis Budget Commission late last month, but only after making a pair of amendments.
Following some passionate public testimony during Monday's council hearing, councilors voted 5-3 to shift $100,000 from a contingency fund to pay for work to advance climate action goals in the community. Specifics on how the money is to be spent will be decided later.
Councilors Charlyn Ellis, Ed Junkins, Bill Glassmire, Charles Maughan and Barbara Bull voted in favor of the amendment. Jan Napack, Andrew Struthers and Hyatt Lytle voted against. Nancy Wyse was absent.
The vote was a reversal for City Manager Mark Shepard, who had argued strongly during the May 23 Budget Commission meeting against allocating additional funds toward climate action goals.
In addition, councilors voted unanimously to set aside $5,000 from the council’s discretionary fund to support the da Vinci Days festival.
The city's spending plan for 2019-20 calls for total expenditures of $176 million with a general fund of $62.7 million. Those figures were contingent on a renewal of the city's local option levy, which was approved by voters almost 3-to-1 in the May 21 election.
If the levy measure had failed, the budget would have been limited to a total of $169 million with a general fund of $55.6 million. A defeat at the ballot box would have meant significant cuts to the library, Osborn Aquatic Center, Chintimini Senior and Community Center and Majestic Theatre.
In another split decision, councilors voted 4-3 to reject an application for a comprehensive plan map amendment that would have enabled high-density development on the Carson property, a 6.31-acre parcel at the southwest corner of Southwest 53rd Street and Country Club Drive.
The landowners had requested a zone change from single-family residential to RS-20 on 6.09 acres of the property, which could have led to the construction of more than 100 units of housing and up to 200 parking spaces on the city’s southwestern fringe.
A number of residents spoke against the proposal at the council’s June 3 meeting, with deliberations deferred until Monday.
Councilors Napack, Junkins, Bull and Ellis voted to deny the application, while Glassmire, Maughan and Struthers voted to grant it. Lytle, who did not attend the June 3 meeting and said she had not read the meeting materials, refrained from voting.
The decision overrules a recommendation by the Corvallis Planning Commission, which had voted to approve the comp plan amendment and the zone change.
During Monday’s deliberations, councilors delved into multiple facets of the issue.
There were arguments that high-density development is needed to address the city’s shortage of affordable housing and counterarguments about compatibility, with Napack saying high-density housing on the Carson property would be “starkly out of place” with the surrounding homes and the rural character of adjacent properties.
Some councilors lobbied for maintaining the current zoning to protect the investments of people who had bought property in the area believing it would remain a single-family neighborhood, while others recommended waiting to consider any zone changes in that part of town for two years or more, until after the anticipated southwest Corvallis area plan can be completed.