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Salem City Council to Discuss Drug Ordinance, Gas Rates

By Bruce Kropp, WJBD News

The Salem City Council Monday night will consider a change in how natural gas rates are calculated that should save everyone money.   City Manager Bill Gruen says for the first time, the more gas you use the less expensive it will be.  

"The structure that I propose maintains our fund balance so that, if we have a problem, that we have some cash on hand to fix it. We also create a structure that, when you look at it--it makes sense. If you use more gas, your rate is cheaper" Gruen said.

Gruen says the largest customers should save more than 50-percent on their bills.  He notes the city council may need to review the rate structure in about six months to determine the impact it is having on the gas reserve fund.  The city currently has a large surplus.   

The council will also consider a proposal for vehicle seizure for those arrested on some drug violations.   

"It will definitely be a discouragement if you have your car impounded by the police if you possess K-2, Bath Salts,  or Cannabis. People who are seeking or possessing drugs have no business being in a vehicle" Gruen said.

The council is being asked to charge $300 for a first offense, $500 for a second and $750 for a third offense.  Alleged violators would be allowed to call for a hearing to formally determine if a violation has occurred.  The draft ordinance calls for the Mayor to be the hearing officer with the standard of proof being preponderance of evidence.

The council will also review two proposals from real estate firms interested in marketing the Kinney Boulevard property at the I-57 interchange.   Gruen says he and Economic Development Director Jeanne Gustafson favor the proposal from Barber-Murphy.   He reports the other was submitted by CBRE.   

"I have confidence in both. We'll have to see what the council wants to do" Gruen said.

Gustafson has worked with Barber Murphy in Centralia.  Gruen likes their hit the street, bottom up approach to promote Kinney is better suited for Salem.  He says if old fashioned relationship building and sale by handshake is better suited for Kinney, Barber Murphy should be selected.  


The council will consider a two year extension of the garbage collection contract with DBS Disposal.  The company is seeking no cost increase.

The council will be asked to remove the deed restrictions for the former Bryan Bennett Library building at 402 South Broadway that prevents retail use.  Current Jim Dice wants to sell the building to a company that wants to operate a home decor store.  

Bids will be open on surplus city property adjacent to PJ Repair in the Westside Industrial Park.  The owners of PJ Repair had requested the property be declared surplus.  Their bid and one other will be opened by the city council at Monday night's meeting. 

The council meeting begins at six Monday night at Salem City Hall.  

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