In a memo from the Newport city manager dated Dec. 6, 2019, the city council was advised of Rogue Brewing Company’s wastewater violations and fines assessed by the city. Rogue has only intermittently been in compliance since 2017, when it was discovered its discharge did not meet city regulations. Fines for 2019 total $241,000. Rogue has requested relief from paying these fines.
Monday, May 4, I once again raised this issue in an emailed public comment to the city council. After a bit of back and forth, the city manager agreed to provide follow-up on this issue at the June 1 council meeting. I very much appreciate those council members who pursued this topic to get a date certain for discussion. One council member stated the goal that best serves the city is for Rogue to come into compliance and be responsible for fines already levied. He further stated it should be an “and” not an “either/or,” as the city manager seemed to imply.
I raised this issue in the face of the city’s responsiveness to the impact of COVID-19 in particular, as well as the ongoing city deficit problems. At the May 4 meeting, the city proposed a relief stimulus for local small businesses. The city has been able to allocate $1 million, with a limit of $10,000 per qualifying small business to fund this proposal. There could be another 24 small businesses getting a much-needed economic boost if the city follows its own code in assessing and collecting fines. In this case, the fines are owed by Rogue Brewing Company. The beneficiaries will be those businesses and the Newport community.