Review of 2021 Salem legislation
SALEM — City council members introduced a whopping 83 pieces of legislation in 2021, with only one ordinance left over that they’ll need to handle this year, related to modifying the Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area.
The DORA, which allows people to drink alcohol outside in a set area, quietly launched in downtown Salem in 2021, restricted to the time frame of Memorial Day through Labor Day, but council’s talking about making it available year-round, still on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, or for events on other days with council approval.
That will be one of the topics of discussion as council reconvenes in 2022, along with continued talks to finalize the new Community Reinvestment Area program, which will allow more residents and businesses to qualify for tax breaks on the value of new construction and renovations.
Also expected this year will be more discussion of what to do with the property the city purchased at the corner of East State and Lincoln where the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce used to be located. Council gave a verbal commitment to allow Mayor John Berlin to explore plans for a possible park there, to have drawings created, but no final decision has been made about how the land will be used.
Council meets for the first time this year at 7 p.m. Tuesday at city hall where members will welcome new Councilwoman Sara Baronzzi, along with new Treasurer Tod Mumpire. During the group’s organizational meeting, council President Tom Baker will unveil the new committee assignments with a revamped committee list.
Last year’s first meeting took place via Zoom online, but eventually the meetings returned to council chambers in person. Compared to previous years, council passed a lot of legislation in 2021, including ordinances to give raises to union employees in the police, fire, utilities and service departments, raises to unrepresented employees, using American Rescue Funds to give a one-time only lump sum payment of 3 percent of 2020 earnings to employees, and for Salem to become a Bee City USA.
The previous year, in 2020, council introduced 67 ordinances and resolutions, with two tabled and then approved after being reintroduced under different numbers. Of the 65 ordinances that came up for consideration, only one failed, dealing with putting a single trash hauler contract out for bid.
Legislation numbers for previous years included 62 introduced and just 60 approved for both 2018 and 2019. Legislation passed in previous years included 64 in 2017, 65 in 2016, 64 in 2015, 80 in 2014 and 2013, 76 in 2012 and 72 in 2011. The Regional Income Tax Agency legislation allowing RITA to take over the administration and collection of the city income tax was approved in 2020 and took effect in 2021.
Some of the other legislation approved in 2021 dealt with front yard parking, fences for properties with frontage on two streets, the creation of a full-time position for the housing department, adjustments to appropriations, the purchase and selling of equipment, purchase of supplies, legislation related to the summer street paving program and resolutions honoring retirees, outgoing city officials and city appointees.