As we move in a slow and planned pace to reopen our community, I want to share with you what the city and its partners have been working on. First, the county and cities within Lincoln County have been working together to meet all the items required by the state to reopen. It has been a joint effort with the other counties in our region (which includes Polk, Yamhill, Linn, Benton, Marion and Lincoln) and we will soon be approved for phase one openings.
Lincoln City, including staff and the city council, have been working to keep our city afloat in these difficult financial times and are working on the budget for the fiscal year. With little transient room taxes, lower income from water and sewer usage plus help for those struggling through financial crisis, the revenue levels of the city have dropped. Cutbacks will need to be made, but we will do so with careful planning and ideas on how to recover. Some services may need to be suspended for a period of time.
The hospital, as well, has had financial dips as they remain open and ready in case we have an onslaught of the coronavirus here in Lincoln City. They are now starting to do some elective surgeries and procedures. They will, however, remain ready to handle any cases as they arise with trained staff and equipment at hand.
Lincoln City has put a few processes into effect to help those in need. There is a water and sewer deferral program for those unable to pay their bills at this time, and we instigated a no shut-off policy. We have two aid programs totaling $635,000 for segments of our community: lodging and nonlodging businesses. We are discussing a $50,000 program for food out in our community. You can check on these and other documents at the city website at www.lincolncity.org.
Our businesses are suffering. I am confident with the experience I have seen that Lincoln City citizens will continue to support our businesses as they reopen and help as many as possible get back on their feet. It will be a slow process, but we can do this together. Oregon Coast Community College Small Business Development Center and local banks/credit unions are being very supportive of our business community in answering questions and helping them identify resources.
Hotels and vacation rentals are still closed, but we are working on a process to get them open gradually. Since school is out, it will be easy for many to come visit Lincoln City. However, we would like to have this happen gradually, rather than one big celebration, so that we can see how the coronavirus responds to people traveling to our area. The county and cities are again working together to come up with a way to make this happen in a more controlled manner. Right now, the order calls for closure of the short-term rentals through May 31.
In the meantime, once we are approved to open, we will see more businesses welcoming our locals back. It will be different than before with social distancing, possibly masks and definitely sanitizing happening that will probably be in effect for some time. We will have a new normal in Lincoln City and around Oregon, but we will gradually be able to see our friends again. Please take any reopening slowly. The governor has a 21-day time period between phases before we can step to the next phase and we could be reclosed if we have an increase in our coronavirus cases.
Thank you to all the essential workers who have been assisting us all face to face at grocery stores, banks, delivery truck drivers and many first responders. There have been many, many other people out in the community making sure people are fed and taking care of the needs of their neighbors and friends. Lincoln City has many true heroes every day.
Finally, I ask that you all keep to the facts. Social media sends mixed messages. There is a lot of information about our city on the website at www.lincolncity.org. This website acts as a local clearinghouse for information. On its homepage are many articles that explain what is happening and is very up-to-date. You can also check the county website under “what’s new” at www.co.lincoln.or.us. Please check these sites if you hear rumors or need information. It is said that we are all in this together, and we can all be part of the recovery process. Be patient. Stay home. Stay safe.
Dick Anderson is the mayor of Lincoln City.