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Gold Hill tables disincorporation issue

GOLD HILL — A scheduled discussion about whether Gold Hill could disincorporate and avoid millions of dollars in repairs to its wastewater treatment plant was quashed within minutes during Monday's City Council meeting.

At least a dozen residents came to the meeting with newspaper clippings about the issue in hand, but no one signed up to speak. Councilwoman Christine Alford urged the council to drop the issue entirely.

Council members Donna Silva, Alford, Margaret Dials and Lorraine Park passed a motion to table the discussion indefinitely.

Council president Sam Blake, who asked that disincorporation be put on the agenda, and Councilor Chris Stanley voted against it. Blake was unavailable for comment Tuesday.

Interim City Manager Dale Shaddox said interest in the topic seemed to wane with media coverage prior to the meeting.

"I think there was enough information out there before Monday's meeting that it reflected there would be no expectation that it (disincorporation) would relieve the city of any of its obligation with water and wastewater," Shaddox said.

"For every proposed solution, there needs to be a clearly identified problem and sufficient information. There was no connection between a set of problems and a solution called disincorporation. We would have merely given away our local decision-making options, and that's really powerful for a community."

Silva voiced disappointment that the topic was even broached.

"When the city manager tells us that that's not an appropriate thing to talk about, and three councilor members ask to bring it up anyway, it's just not right," she said.

"We should listen to what our city manager tells us to do. That's why we hired and pay him money to do a job. If the people of Gold Hill really thought the county was just going to take care of their sewer plant for them, free of charge, they're crazy."

Gold Hill is faced with $10 million to $12 million in repairs and rebuilding of its failing wastewater treatment plant over the next three to five years. The council on Monday approved required paperwork assuring the state it is committed to replacing or extensively renovating its sewer plant.

Shaddox said design proposals from various engineers will be reviewed Friday. The design and planning phase is expected to cost $100,000.

Once the necessary funding was obtained, reconstruction or renovation of the facility would begin by 2019.

Buffy Pollock is a freelance reporter living in Medford. Email her at buffyp76@yahoo.com.