April 2, 2010


Share this article! Metro cuts budget Metro will cut its 2010-11 budget by 8.2% to $425 million, a move that will eliminate 10 positions. The budget cut is meant to maintain its many regional services, planning programs and event venues until the economy turns around. Metro coordinates land-use and transportation planning in the tri-county Portland … Read more

Metro cuts budget

Metro will cut its 2010-11 budget by 8.2% to $425 million, a move that will eliminate 10 positions.

The budget cut is meant to maintain its many regional services, planning programs and event venues until the economy turns around.

Metro coordinates land-use and transportation planning in the tri-county Portland area, runs the Oregon Zoo, pioneer cemeteries and a golf course, oversees garbage collection and recycling, owns regional parks and operates the Oregon Convention Center, the Portland Metropolitan Exposition Center and the Portland Center for the Performing Arts.

Its that wide range of services that make Metro more susceptible to economic ripples than other local governments, [Chief Operating Officer Michael Jordan] said. Its largest source of money is not property taxes, but “enterprise revenue” — including money paid for direct services such as a ticket to the zoo or a show, or tonnage fees imposed on garbage haulers.

Read the full story at OregonLive.com.

Wave study needs cash

House Bill 3633 calls for the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development to study the potential of wave energy off Oregon’s coast.

But the study needs $50,000 to $100,000, which the bill’s backers intend to raise on their own.

“We’re raising the money ourselves – not asking the state to pay for this because we told our leadership: no bills that would A) be controversial, or B) cost money to the state,” [said state Rep. Deborah Boone]. “So we said ‘Fine. We’ll raise whatever it takes to get this thing down off the starting blocks and going through.'”

Boone said the new study will fit with the seafloor mapping already under way and she envisions it plugging into an online Oregon marine map that could be used by fishery managers, scientists and other stakeholders to plan out how different parts of the ocean should be used.

Read the full story at The Daily Astorian.

Biomass business builds

The Port Westward Energy Park will soon be home to two new biomass plants, one from Community Energy Systems LLC, and the other to be announced later this month.

It’s welcome news for the Port of St. Helens-owned park, which has been seeking industrial development for years.

CES, based out of Colorado, develops biomass energy projects in Western states. They have been in talks with the Port for about two years, said Gerry Meyer, executive director for the Port.

The CES facility is proposed to be a three-phase project. The first phase would be the construction of a test site that would create three to four megawatts of electricity from biomass materials. After that the second phase would increase the wattage to 25 megawatts and employ 25 people. Finally the third phase would employ 60 people and the facility would begin converting wood byproducts to biodiesel.

Read the full story at the Portland Tribune.

Pear farms can’t sell

A 1973 law established to preserve open space and farm land helped Oregon earn its status as a green pioneer in the U.S.

But with their profits down, Oregon pear growers are having trouble maintaing their farms because of the law.

The credit crunch and consumers unwilling to splurge for $30 boxes of pears are behind much of the pain, growers say. Yet they insist their real headache is their inability to raise capital by selling land at top value, which they say would let them buy farmland further from residential areas. That is because land-use laws say their orchards must remain in agriculture.

“It’s the worst case of unintended consequences you can imagine,” says David D. Lowry, chief executive of Associated Fruit Co., the smallest of Medford’s Big Three, who fears his business could be the next to close. Like others, he has plenty of land to sell, but no one willing to buy as long as it is zoned for farming only.

Read the full story at the Wall Street Journal.

The bard does well

Organizers for the annual Oregon Shakespeare Festival had budgeted for a drop this year, but ticket sales are up 23% over the same period last year.

If the figures hold, the festival could beat its record season last year, despite the economy.

“I am absolutely not willing to make a prediction — we’ve still got 31 weeks left of the season and it’s just too early — but we’re certainly hopeful,” said Paul Nicholson, OSF executive director.

In its first five weeks, the festival has sold 6,500 more tickets than last year, he said. The two theaters with plays running have been 92 percent full on average, compared to 74 percent full at this time last season, Nicholson said.

Read the full story at the Mail Tribune.