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'Florence nearing water deal' council member says

Staff writer

Florence city council held a 40-minute executive session at Monday’s meeting to discuss the lease regarding Crystal Springs.

The council was present, along with mayor Bob Gayle and city attorney Randy Pankratz.

Pankratz addressed the audience regarding how much eminent domain would cost, if that were the result.

Local business owner Sarah Dawson requested a worst-case scenario from the attorney for the cost of the case. A letter with 60 signatures was presented to show community concerns and support for the DeForests, owners of the land.

“It would just be an estimate, but if you go to the county level and it gets appealed to a district or state level, there’s going to be a lot of cost to that,” Dawson said. “If you had a better idea of how much this was going to cost, maybe you guys would do a better job negotiating.”

The high estimate for the cost was $70,000, before accounting for how much the eminent domain purchase would cost, Pankratz said.

“I’ve been involved in cases that ran up $100,000,” he said. “Lawsuits in Marion County typically don’t get up into that range.”

The city is close to reaching an agreement with the DeForests, but wants to ensure both parties get the right deal, councilman Trayce Warner said.

“When they come in and say this part of the contract is something we should be concerned about, we have to listen to them or we’re not doing our job,” she said.

Resident Louis Voelker was skeptical of the city attorney’s value.

“Why don’t you sign the thing and get it over with,” he said. “It’s going to end up the same way anyway.”

Fire chief Mark Slater informed the council Marion County fire departments are working to build a task force.

“We stay together, we leave together,” he said. “You’d be with some other departments, but our units are all in one area at the same time.”

Florence’s portion of the task force will have one truck, and it will not respond to a call if it isn’t fully staffed.

A portion of the sewer main is in need of replacement, with estimated costs between $3,000 and $5,000. The council unanimously voted to give Inlow Plumbing Services the contract for the job.

Last modified Oct. 24, 2018

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