Fuel tax

Brookings City Council voted Monday to place a question on the May ballot asking voters to reinstate a 4-cent-per-gallon fuel tax that sunsets in July.

The revenue raised through the tax pays for road maintenance on the city’s 32 miles of roads.

Previously, the money was collected through a System Replacement Fee for roads on residents’ water bills, but it wasn’t generating enough money to keep up with projects.

The city council guessed how much gas is sold — gas stations declined to divulge the information, citing it as proprietary information — how much it will need to keep roads in good condition over the next decade and came up with the 4-cent figure.

The proposed tax increase is projected to raise about $287,000 a year — just shy of the $300,000 engineers estimate is needed.

The only change will be that there will no longer be a cap on how much the city can collect; previously it was $300,000.

Hammond House arson

Two women were arrested and no one was injured in what officials believe were arson fires at the Hammond House in Gold Beach and in a private home in town Jan. 3, Gold Beach Police Chief Tracy Wood said.

Police arrested Kathleen Rivera, 34, on arson and reckless endangerment charges after she alleged lighted fabric on the kitchen stove at the Hammond House last Wednesday afternoon. Earlier that day, Sarah Holcomb, 34, did the same in the kitchen in a house in town.

The apartment complex is owned and managed by Curry Community Health (CCH). A spokesperson for CCH could not be reached for comment.

The two fires are not believed to be related, according to Wood.

Seven people live in the Hammond House apartments and were relocated to temporary housing. The home, which serves as subsidized housing, is divided into two, four-unit apartments. The side of the house that burned had four occupants.

“My officer and deputy were able to get everyone out of the other apartments,” Wood said. “By the time my guys were on scene, it was fully engulfed, and there were flames coming out of the roof.”

Monetary damage to the apartments is not yet known, but Wood said he believes it is a total loss.

“One apartment was completely gutted,” he said, “the one next to it was severely damaged; it’s just my belief it’ll be a total loss.”

CCH plans to meet the needs of its tenants until they can return to permanent housing, and expressed its gratitude to the emergency responders and their quick response, a press release said

The investigation is ongoing.

DUII patrols

Curry County Sheriff’s deputies made 25 traffic stops from Dec. 13 to Jan. 1 as part of “saturation patrols” focused on keeping impaired drivers off the road.

Twelve people were contacted for speeding, seven for failing to stay in their traffic lane, five for having defective lights and two were found to have felony warrants out for their arrest. One each was contacted for following too close, failing to yield to an emergency vehicle and possession of a controlled substance.

The efforts are funded by a State Sheriff’s Association and Department of Transportation grant; deputies logged 23 hours of overtime over the holidays conducting the patrols, a press release reads.

Airport projects

Two of Brookings’ airport projects have been merged into one for consideration and advanced to the top three in the region for possible funding this spring by Oregon’s Regional Solutions.

The region includes Coos, Curry and Douglas counties.

The city submitted information regarding the projects to the program as capital projects that would create and keep new jobs.

The Oregon House Rural Economic Development Committee will review the top projects in February.

The now-merged project would include developing an airport access and runway extension plan and site and infrastructure plans for a potential industrial park adjacent to the airport. The total estimated cost is $90,000.

Meanwhile, the city awaits review and comment from the Federal Aviation Administration on the proposed sale of the airport between the city and Curry County. The agreement was submitted to the FAA Dec. 7.

The cost of music?

The city will again pay $1,061 dollars for the use of copyrighted music used in Azalea Park and during the downtown Christmas tree-lighting event.

If the city didn’t pay those fees, it would have to make those who are actually playing the music, undertaking the performance — or even leading children in singing Christmas carols — sign an agreement with the city verifying they paid the fees, said City Manager Gary Milliman in a weekly report to citizens.

One of the organizations reminded the city that failing to pay could subject the city to a $150,000 fine for each song performed or played on city property. The fee-collecting agencies distribute at least a portion of the collected fees to the owners of the copyrighted songs, Milliman said.

Flood maps available

Brookings has the latest Flood Insurance Rate study and maps for people to peruse to see if their property falls within a potentially dangerous flood area.

FEMA has asked municipalities to make them available to the “broadest possible public audience.” It will be discussed at the next planning commission meeting, and the map and study are available to the public to review at the Visitor Information counter at city hall.