Happy weekend, Hillsboro. Let’s get caught up on the last week in local news:
Medical marijuana dispensary called Mahalo proposed near downtown Hillsboro
Medical marijuana dispensaries are legal in Hillsboro now, and the planning department has now received an official application to open one in the city’s southwestern corner.
Applicant Frankie Powell wants to turn a small building zoned for commercial use at 353 S.W. Walnut St. into Mahalo, a medical marijuana retail facility.
It’s not the first time somebody has proposed putting a dispensary at that address. Last year, Will McEvoy attempted to open Mundo Verde at the same location. The city’s one-year ban on the facilities was in place at the time, but McEvoy took Hillsboro city councilors at their word when they said they didn’t expect it to take the full year to establish zoning regulations. He figured he could get set up and be ready to go when the dispensaries became legal.
The Hillsboro Planning Commission ended up taking the entire year to make a zoning recommendation to the council, and McEvoy never opened Mundo Verde. He said he could not afford to continue making payments on the Walnut Street building and told planners the city “has pretty much run us out of town” last August.
City residents have until 5 p.m. on May 26 to submit written comments to the planning department regarding the proposed Mahalo dispensary.
Microsoft joins plan to build undersea cable from Hillsboro to Asia
Construction has started on a Microsoft-sponsored plan to build an undersea cable connecting Hillsboro to four Asian nations, the Taiwanese company Chunghwa Telecom announced Monday.
Microsoft and Chunghwa have joined a consortium that also includes telecommunications companies from China, South Korea and Japan to construct the cable, which would measure over 8,000 miles long.
On its website, Microsoft said it would invest in “its first physical landing station in the U.S. connecting North America to Asia” as part of the project, dubbed the New Cross Pacific Cable Network.
With $498 million budget in hand, mayor calls Hillsboro ‘the place to be’
The Hillsboro Budget Committee on Wednesday evening took only a couple hours to zip through a 2015-16 budget of nearly half a billion dollars, approving the 762-page document and forwarding it to the City Council for a final vote next month.
The $498 million figure – an 11 percent increase over the current year’s $449 million total – looks massive. But Suzanne Linneen, the city’s finance director, said the “net budget” is only about $252 million after accounting for reserves and transfers from one fund to another, which are counted twice. That reflects a 15 percent year-over-year surge in actual spending, according to a presentation Linneen gave to the committee.
The 2015-16 budget applies to the fiscal year beginning July 1.
The $99.4 million general fund, which itself is projected to rise 4 percent from $95.5 million this year, represents just a slice of the city’s total assets. Largely derived from property taxes, the fund subsidizes the police, fire, parks, library and planning departments, in addition to the municipal court. The general fund is only one of Hillsboro’s 51 separate funds.
Linneen said the estimates for new general fund revenues in 2015-16 are in line with planned expenses, after the city ran a slight deficit for this year. An infusion of $5 million in Gain Share money offset that deficit and bolstered the general fund reserve.
Preliminary forecasts indicate that the general fund reserve in 2015-16 will be $14.6 million – or 17 percent of the city’s $84.8 million in expenditures, Linneen said. The city’s total reserves are projected at $168 million.
Judge Gayle Nachtigal receives Emma C. McKinney award at Hillsboro Chamber gala
Judge Gayle Nachtigal, who served 22 years on the Washington County Circuit Court bench, received the 2015 Emma C. McKinney Distinguished Citizen award Thursday evening at the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce’s annual awards gala, dubbed “Where the Stars Shine.”
“I love Hillsboro,” said Nachtigal, who had not known she would receive the award, to the crowd at NW Events & Environments. “I love this town.”
Nachtigal retired in September of 2013 but continues to hear cases 35 days per year. She is a longtime member of Hillsboro Rotary and is the current board chair at Bag&Baggage, Hillsboro’s nonprofit theater company.
She thanked her husband of 37 years, Fred Nachtigal, who currently serves on the Hillsboro City Council, for his support.
The Emma C. McKinney award is presented every year and is named for the longtime matriarch of the Hillsboro Argus. The Argus will make a $500 donation to a nonprofit organization of Nachtigal’s choice.
The other honor that remained under wraps until Thursday evening, the Chairman’s Award, was presented to Oregon Sen. Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose). Her district includes a large swath of western Washington County.
What do you think? What did I miss? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.