January 28, 2020
Good evening Mayor, City Councilors – thank you for giving us the opportunity to speak this evening.
My name is Lorraine Clarno, I serve as the President/CEO of the Beaverton Area Chamber of Commerce.
I am here this evening representing our Business Advocacy Council and Board of Directors.
We have been following the Charter Review process embarked on earlier this past fall and have done our best to stay up to speed the past few months on your discussions and ultimately, the recommended Charter changes being presented today in this second public hearing.
Beaverton has changed a great deal since the adopted Charter in 1980 and even since the Urban Renewal Charter Amendment in November of 2008. Beaverton as a community, prides itself on being pro-active and current. Successful business operates in a constant world of change and must be evolving and innovating regularly to remain relevant, efficient and ready for the future. To that end we thank you for doing your research and applaud your study to determine what form of government will be best for Beaverton going forward.
I have talked with many of our members and partners personally over the past weeks and we recently called for a special meeting of our Business Advocacy Council on this topic resulting in some great discussions. At this time we have more questions than answers and are not here tonight to advocate for or against the recommended City Manager/Strong Council form of government. In fact, without naming names here this evening, I was shocked at the number of very engaged business owners and operators that had no knowledge of this work being done.
Beaverton spent 5+ years collecting input and having dialogue with more than 10,000 citizens to develop the Community Visioning plan which has served us so well. When working on the Charter Amendment in 2007 to allow for Urban Renewal I can personally recall a tremendous amount of community outreach and informational sessions many of us participated in to ensure its successful passage. What’s before you this evening is a complete Charter/Constitutional overhaul and this is the second public hearing.
Being fully transparent with you this evening, many of those we’ve spoken with agree that it is time to consider a professional city manager model for Beaverton. What started as a language clean up and look at moving to a PT ceremonial mayor/city manager model has resulted in what is a complex hybrid model of Fulltime Mayor/Strong Council. The timing and rush concerns them. There are significant budgetary implications in the Charter draft if passed and yet no discussion around what that is or could be.
If your intention this evening is to move this forward for the May ballot, we would ask you to reconsider and look at the November 2020 election ballot. It would give more time for us to understand why this is good for business – our primary focus. It would give more time to get voters up to speed and understand any needs for change. And, finally, November would allow for more inclusive conversations and you would have a much more diverse electorate deciding on what is best for Beaverton’s future.
We are here tonight as a partner, to ask for more time to engage the community, get questions answered, and ultimately see a successful campaign that passes the first time to lay the foundation for Beaverton’s future.
What are the benefits to the citizens of Beaverton in making this change?
Will this streamline or make it more difficult for businesses to build businesses and create livable wage jobs for the citizens of Beaverton?
How will this change impact the collaboration required of our Beaverton City Leadership with the various special districts, Washington County, Metro, etc.?
If approved, how would the transition truly work given that we have candidates filed to run for positions that may actually change before they are even elected or take their seat.
What are the costs of this change to the taxpayers? The current version of the City Charter being proposed includes the addition of a new City Councilor, a new City Manager, undefined numbers of support staff as needed for the mayor and the Council while not addressing the compensation expenses directly of all of the moving parts other than to give the Council full authority to set the pay levels of all of the above.