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Three of the four Corvallis task forces working on City Council goals have completed their draft scopes of work and timelines.

The climate action group, chaired by Ward 3 Councilor Zach Baker, tweaked its plan Wednesday during a 55-minute meeting Tuesday at the downtown fire station. The City Council is scheduled to review it Monday.

Mayor Biff Traber assembled the task forces to implement council goals on housing, the budget, a vision and action plan and climate action. Budget, chaired by Ward 9’s Hal Brauner and vision, chaired by Ward’s 1’s Penny York, already have had their drafts and timelines approved by the full council. Housing, working under Ward 5’s Mike Beilstein, has yet to complete its draft.

There were no serious disagreements to be resolved by the climate action group on Tuesday, although the task force did finalize its recommendation on setting greenhouse gas targets, a key discussion topic at its July 16 meeting.

Some task force and community members thought the targets were so essential to a climate action plan that they needed to be nailed down as a starting point. while others wanted to make sure that the public got a chance to weigh in on them.

The task force decided to set a preliminary target in November and review it in February and June of 2016, with a final target included in the plan that the group hopes to present to the City Council in September or October of 2016.

The task force also finalized a draft scope of work and timeline for the city’s support of an effort to win the Georgetown University Energy Prize. The city already is one of 50 communities that have reached the semifinals in the competition, which is designed to encourage communities to reduce municipal and residential electricity and gas use.

The 10 cities that reduce their energy use the most in 2015 and 2016 will advance to the finals, and one of those cities will take home $5 million. The city has pledged $5,000 to Take Charge Corvallis, the community group that is spearheading the prize campaign.

Resource issues have not yet been ironed out for the climate action work. Mary Steckel, the Public Works director, who was representing city staff at the meeting, noted that the “staff capacity doesn’t currently exist” to assist on the project.

One potential source of funding is the $190,000 that the council approved to implement council goals when it signed off on the budget June 1. City Manager Mark Shepard will make the final call on how that money will be spent, with adding city employees and hiring consultants in the mix.

Earlier Wednesday, the chairs of the four goals task forces (with Ward 8's Frank Hann filling in for Beilstein, who is in Cuba on the annual Pastors for Peace aid caravan) met with Traber and Shepard. Topics discussed included possible overlap of the work of the task forces and opportunities for coordination, particularly on public outreach.

Brauner noted that one of the challenges his budget task force faces is its timing on coming up with ideas for new revenue streams.

“The community might buy into revenue ideas more if the plans of the task forces are known,” he said. “They might say, ‘yes, we want to pay for that.’ If we ask the community for revenues now without any plans being done they are going to say no … and I wouldn’t blame them."

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Contact reporter James Day at jim.day@gazettetimes.com or 541-758-9542. Follow at Twitter.com/jameshday or gazettetimes.com/blogs/jim-day.

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