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The question as to whether or not a public hearing is supposed to be held on the Whitewater Park petition initiative arose at the August 3 meeting of the Salmon City Council and was caused by the way legislation, which went into effect July 1, is written.

Councilman Jim Baker had researched the new state statute which governs initiatives and referendums. His interpretation of the legislation was that the city is required to hold a public hearing on the Whitewater Park initiative within 30 days of the petition’s receipt.

Baker said that due to the delay in realizing action was needed and publication schedules a hearing could not be held within the 30 day time period however his recommendation was to proceed with scheduling a public meeting.

City Attorney Snook interprets the new legislation to mean that a public hearing would be needed only if the council chose to official adopt the ordinance, which it has not done. He quoted the first line of the legislation as saying “The city council shall have the option to adopt it…” He said the purpose of the second line about the city holding a public hearing is that the City Council cannot just decide to adopt the ordinance without holding a public hearing.

Snook said his interpretation is, if there is no adoption of the initiative ordinance there is no need for a public hearing and the initiative will proceed to the November Election ballot.

Councilman Jim Bockelman had requested a discussion be placed on that evening’s agenda of whether or not the council should adopt the Whitewater Park petition ordinance. When the discussion began Bockelman said the council should consider if it could be appropriate or advantageous to go ahead and pass the ordinance. One of his concerns was if voters pass the initiative which would not allow a whitewater kayak park to be established as well as quoting…from the initiative, “… any improvements related thereto on property owned by the city of Salmon” would that also apply to the Island Park Bridge replacement?

As to the question of adopting the petition initiative Councilman Fred Waidely said it is imperative that the City Council remain neutral. He said if the council decided to adopt the ordinance it would be a lose-lose situation in that people on all sides would be “teed off.” He said, “Let’s let the voters decide on the ballot in November.” Waidely said this is a decision in which the council should not be involved.

Based on Snook’s opinion that a public hearing is not legally mandatory, a motion by Waidely was unanimously passed stating that the council is opting to take no action on the ordinance and let the petition initiative proceed to the November ballot.

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