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The mayor/council self-evaluations that were on the agenda to be discussed at Thursday’s Corvallis City Council work session include suggestions that the group do more celebrating.

So they did. With an unexpected twist that included a symbolic piece of farm equipment.

Thursday’s session opened with cupcakes, cookies and cake as well as complimentary remarks for all who were involved in the campaign to get Measure 2-124 approved by Benton County voters.

The measure, which authorizes the formation of a 911 emergency services taxing district, passed with more than 61 percent of the vote. The new district will be paid for with a property tax increase and will allow the current dispatch center at the law enforcement building in Corvallis to increase from 17 employees to 28. District backers say the increase is critical to improving countywide emergency response times.

“That’s quite an accomplishment to get 60 percent of the vote,” said City Manager Mark Shepard, “and it wouldn’t have happened without council’s steadfast leadership. The council turned over during the work and didn’t miss a beat.”

Shepard also thanked Curtis Wright, who led the campaign committees that passed both the 911 district and the renewal and extension of the city’s local option property tax levy, which voters OK’d with more than 72 percent of the vote in May.

The 911 district and the levy as well as a public safety fee that is paying for 19 police staffers and six firefighters were part of what Shepard dubbed “the three-legged stool” of revenue increases to boost city services. Shepard has noted the importance of going 3-for-3 on the measures because if a stool has just one or two legs … it’s going down.

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Fittingly, at the work session Wright presented Shepard with a miniature three-legged stool, drawing applause and hoots of laughter from the 22 councilors and city officials in the room.

Wright thanked Shepard for his leadership and then got a bit emotional, noting the voters have been passing the measures “because they think this city is important.”

Councilors then dived into their third work session on the policies and priorities section of the strategic operational plan (SOP), which Shepard put forward last year as a way of organizing city work.

Councilors are planning one more work session to review the document on Nov. 21. Then, city staff will begin developing the list of actions the city plans to make part of the plan, which is organized in five-year cycles. The council will look at the full SOP at its Jan. 9 work session and at its Jan. 21 regular meeting.

Public testimony will be taken at the Jan. 21 session, with city officials still working on a way for residents to comment in writing on both the high-level policies and priorities and the list of actions.

The council/mayor self-evaluations, meanwhile, will be rescheduled for a future work session.

New Ward 7 Councilor Paul Shaffer, who was elected Tuesday to replace Bill Glassmire, participated in the work session. Shaffer will be sworn in at the Nov. 18 council meeting. Glassmire resigned in August for health reasons.

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Contact reporter James Day at jim.day@gazettetimes.com or 541-812-6116. Follow at Twitter.com/jameshday or gazettetimes.com/blogs/jim-day.

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