Community Editor's Picks Opinion

Opinion: Manzanita city hall project draws questions

My letter to Manzanita citizens was intended to document a process and appeal to the Mayor and Council to offer citizen/taxpayers more rather than less viable options involving the development of the Underhill property. I asked questions that I believed needed to be asked and avoided making conclusions based on my opinion when facts offered a more reasoned course of action.

I believe that the Public Facility Committee members would agree that I contributed constructively to our year long investigation by offering candid assessments of ideas and working to find consensus where I disagreed on a particular matter. I supported recommending the inclusion of every new build option developed by the Committee to the City Council. When necessary, I privately shared with the Mayor and Council President my concerns over the purchase of the Underhill property with respect to their due diligence investigation including not obtaining a property appraisal prior to purchase that I believed would have political ramifications if not effectively addressed as this process played out.

As I have stated, I welcome the City to point out what in my letter is inaccurate. Rather than address the very direct points raised in my letter, the City seems more inclined to begin the whisper campaign to manufacture stories about my motives and credibility. In 32 years of public service, I never observed elected officials who were confident of their policy decisions decline the opportunity to vigorously defend their actions before the electorate.

Given the fact that this is the most expensive project to be totally funded by taxpayers in Manzanita’s history, why does the City Council believe it is beneficial to restrict presentation of options to citizens? Why does the Council eagerly reference their consultant’s recommendations when it supports their desired conclusions and dismiss the same consultants’ opinion when it might differ from that conclusion? Why do the Mayor and Council believe that an expensive property tax increase is more appealing than an option for development of safe and functional City facilities that could possibly be developed without additional property taxes?

I appreciate that my questions have caused tensions and made some individuals uncomfortable. I will take responsibility for shining a light on this matter but I will not apologize for what that light has revealed.

Randy Kugler served as a member of Manzanita City Hall/Public Facility Committee and is a former Manzanita city manager.