The Hermiston City Council cleared the way Monday night for a new psychiatric treatment facility by annexing a little more than an acre of land into the city limits.
The land, owned by Good Shepherd Health Care Systems, will be leased to Lifeways, allowing it to construct a 10-bed facility that will provide short-term psychiatric treatment to patients in the Eastern Oregon region.
The property annexed into the city is 1.16 acres located on the north side of West Linda Avenue near the intersection of West Linda and N.W. 12th St. Greg Schneider of Lifeways said the facility will have a $1.2 million staffing budget and will have about 30 employees.
David Hughes, chief operating officer for Good Shepherd Health Care Systems said the facility will fill a need for the area.
“We currently have no place for these patients,” Hughes said. He said the hospital has to scramble to find an appropriate care facility for the psychiatric patients that come to the hospital.
“We call Lifeways and they look for beds for these patients,” he said. “They sometimes have to look as far away as Salem. It’s a great need in Hermiston and this will allow us to get these patients stable and in an outreach program.”
Monday’s decision to annex the property comes after an earlier request to annex a much larger portion of the land into the city. Originally, the hospital had requested that 14 acres of land be annexed with a residential zoning designation. The city, however, postponed its decision and asked the hospital to partition off just the land that would be leased to Lifeways. In June, Hermiston City Manager Ed Brookshier said the property “is some of the highest quality commercial real estate in the city.”
Hermiston Mayor Dave Drotzmann thanked Good Shepherd Monday night for recognizing the importance of mental health care.
“This is a huge asset to the region and to our community,” he said.
Also Monday, the council adopted two resolutions involving fiscal management. The first adopts a written investment policy for the city aimed at providing transparency to the public regarding the way the city manages public funds, as well as giving the city investment guidance.
“Having a written investment policy is viewed favorably by credit agencies,” said Hermiston Finance Director Amy Palmer. It could also result in a higher credit rating and ultimately save Hermiston taxpayers money, said Palmer.
The other resolution adopts an overall financial policy for the city and provides continuity in terms of financial management in the future when council members and city administration have changes in personnel.
The city council also formally passed an ordinance creating an urban renewal district in Hermiston.
The budget for the district has been set at $2.5 million and will pay for a festival street along Second Street, a façade grant program, jump-start loans, and parking improvements, among other projects. Funding for the projects will not come from new taxes. Instead, future increases in tax revenue from existing taxing districts will be shifted over to the urban renewal district for the time in which the district exists. The lifespan of the district has been set at 20 years.
The council also approved a request by Street Superintendent Ron Sivey to seek bids to put a two-inch overlay on N.E. North Street. Sivey also received approval to get bids to construct and improve three storm water drywells. The drywells are located on S.W. Seventh Street as well as 665 E. Wilshire Avenue and 527 E. Sunset Drive. Sivey said all three areas overflow during heavy rains.
The council also announced two openings on the Parks and Recreation Committee, as well as a vacancy on the Airport Advisory Committee. Applications for all three openings are due on Sept. 19.