Update May 17, 2018: Molalla Sewage Tsunami will now cost $46 MILLION to fix, per this newest report (which shows all the out of compliance/ over capacity sewage disasters): https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6lDnyMwVqg4TC0zaVE3UFFVMEp2ampoSjBEVG9RWGcyU3Rv/view
Update Feb. 14, 2019: Molalla Sewage Tsunami now is projected to cost the City $71 MILLION – the $46 MILLION was for a plant based on bogus, wished for changes to the current permit: DEQ says the City MUST design a plant that meets it current permit standards so the days of denial are swiftly coming to an end! And duh: before the City can borrow those tens of millions, it has to raise utility rates through the roof to prove it has the capacity to pay back tens of millions with interest!).
Here’s the newest Molalla Sewage Tsunami hold your head and cry report (it’s worse every time a new more detailed report is produced!): I & I Flow Mapping Report – Draft (Mar. 2018) (3 MB) found on this City webpage (read all the documents if you want to get really depressed about Molalla’s hideous “management”!) http://www.cityofmolalla.com/publicworks/page/wastewater-facility-collection-system-master-plan-update
And for the background on how Molalla’s wastewater FIASCO reached today’s crisis, read this post that outlines how many lies the Molalla “managers” and “leaders” told: https://oregonfirst.wordpress.com/2015/09/25/molalla-clean-water-act-lawsuit-losers/
Are you tempted by artificially low real estate prices in “drive till you qualify” Decayville Molalla?
It’s easy to get hooked by grasping real estate agent spin – after all, real estate agents depend on a commission and could give a hoot if you really understand the truth about the disaster that is the City of Molalla. The shit has literally hit the fan – the wastewater facility is over capacity, the lagoons are leaking and Decayville Molalla faces huge rate increases to meet wastewater compliance: where, oh where, will the needed $38-50 MILLION come from? Molalla is spending money it doesn’t have, fighting DEQ on one front and an enforcement action of a Clean Water Act lawsuit settlement on the other front, using an expensive law firm that seemingly has more interest in billable hours than in producing swift mitigation.
Think hard about it: can you AFFORD to risk investing in low quality of life Decayville Molalla?
Never mind that the city “leaders” and “staff”have failed, as they stuffed in development like drunken sailors, to add a single new park for all the crammed in, cookie cutter houses.
Never mind that the old downtown is a poster child for urban decay, featuring a myriad of archaic empty store fronts broken by hard liquor bars, tattoo parlor, pawnshop-esque Quick Cash, used clothing stores, video gambling parlors thinly disguised as “delis. Worst of all, old downtown and and adjoining neighborhoods now endure invasive noise pollution via a giant log grinding business which was allowed to locate (with tax perks from the City Council!!!) right in the heart of Decayville: nothing like NOISE POLLUTION slamming away from the early morning to late in the evening to ruin what was left of quality of life in Molalla. The bitter complaints about the NOISE POLLUTION of course fell on deaf ears to City “leaders” because a handful of jobs and filling up a nasty old mill site means more to them than protecting their residents from the invasive BOOMS AND CLUNKS AND GRINDS of nasty Longview Fiber (a business a DEQ rep noted was not an appropriate choice, given the NOISE POLLUTION in proximity to residential neighborhoods). So much for any “charm” about old downtown!
Never mind that the “leaders” and “managers” failed to raise sewer and water rates or System Develop Charges to keep up with inflation and needed expansion/upgrades/maintenance. In fact, the “leaders” and “mangers” played so fast and loose with public funds that a forensic audit in 2011 found a whooping 2.5 million dollars in SDCs was missing (and never replaced or accounted for!). The “leaders” ran the City into insolvency illegally shifting funds to push a sure to fail land use adventure that was as predicted denied (current Mayor Jimmy Thompson, then a City Councilor, voted to fund that land use train wreck to the bitter end, in spite of years of negative feedback from state and county).
Never mind that public participation is so low that the City Council and Mayor were either appointed or elected unopposed. If you want a wake up call about the quality of “leadership”, take a look at the video tapes of recent City Council meetings, where the “councilors” show their lack of knowledge about issues – they are simply there to rubber stamp whatever El Hefe city “manager” Huff puts in front of them. A recent hilarious moment featured Council President Klein asking where a road was that they were about to vote to annex! Maybe a RESPONSIBLE leader would check out the road issues BEFORE landing at a public meeting? In this case, they voted to take over Lowe Road from the County – a road that the County lists as so substandard the gravel was maintained by the few residents, not the County. Why would a Council add a woefully substandard “road” when it can’t afford to fix the roads it already is responsible for? But never fear, this is only one of the many pathetic moments when the so-called “leaders” reveal in public how ignorant they are about issues the City faces!
Never mind that El Hefe Huff and his side kick public works “manager” Fisher goaded the City Council into approving an $11/month road utility fee (see previous post) because the roads are a mess and the “managers” can’t “manage” to fix them. Before the fee could be imposed, enough signatures were gathered to put that up for a vote in May. Gee, why didn’t the City Council have the courage to ask the rate payers for a vote if they REALLY wanted to hear what “their” people wanted? And, again, why did El Hefe and Fisher push to add substandard gravel Lowe “Road” to the city inventory when they admit how they can’t manage to maintain the roads they already have?
Never mind that the Molalla River School District consistently falls into the bottom 50% of Oregon school ratings. MRSD has a long, ugly history of racism and gay bashing. If you value your children, be sure to check out all the state school ratings and pick a District that has a proven track record of excellent educational outcomes – and that’s NOT MRSD!
Never mind that the la la land City Council is more focused on (yet again!) “visioning” that never comes true than on the concrete and ugly problems Decayville faces. After all, since Molalla is often listed officially as a “distressed” city by the state, in part because of poorly educated residents, the Council apparently thinks pie in the sky “if wishes were horses, beggars would ride” visions are enough to mollify tax paying residents. The 2007 official “parks plan” vision was “revised” in 2014 and is listed for yet another “revision” – and, again, not a scrap of new land has been developed as a park: no problem stuffing in houses but the “leaders” care not at all about providing adequate recreational opportunities.
What you need to worry about is that the City of Molalla “leaders” and highly paid “managers” have been so totally incompetent and unethical about managing the growing sewage that the City now faces a $38-50 MILLION DOLLAR bill to upgrade its wastewater facilities to comply with the Clean Water Act! And that won’t be a voluntary, “we’ll get to it when we can afford it” effort – it will be legally mandated by DEQ in a binding Mutual Agreement and Order (MAO). And if the City balks at that MAO it will face a court order. That’s how far off the track Molalla’s “management” has gone. Do you really want to buy into a place that goes that far off the track?
A great book called Better Not Bigger by Eben Fodor clearly outlines exactly what caused Molalla to turn into a Decayville city, facing funding crisis after funding crisis:
Better Not Bigger nails it – Molalla is a poster child for creating too much cheap growth without heeding the need to pay for upgrades. Over the past years, Molalla had to stop running it Adult Community Center, it closed the city run pool (now taxpayers have to fund that White Elephant!), it’s roads are a mess, no new parks were added, the Molalla River School District whines about over crowding but can’t get a bond passed and now the sewage plant is PROVEN to be over capacity and will need to be upgraded: the literal shit has hit the fan as Molalla faces the need to borrow $38-50 MILLION dollars for wastewater upgrades – in a town that struggles every year to balance the books! And guess who will have to foot the bills to keep low quality of life Molalla afloat? You got it – the TAXPAYERS!
What you also need to worry about is that the “leaders” are in such blatant denial about the sewage tsunami that, just like in past fiascos, they are spending public money through the nose on legal representation that is only delaying the inevitable. That’s a big problem with Molalla “leaders”: they get hooked up with lawyers who apparently need a paycheck so badly that they goad the naive and clueless “leaders” into spending public money like it was water, making demands of agencies that any half-literate lay person would know won’t fly, It would be funny to see the legal exchanges coming from Molalla, whining about its “special” needs and is lack of money, as if DEQ would give a rat’s ass consideration to those baloney excuses, if the City was using play money. But no, those “leaders” and “managers” are spending money Molalla can’t afford to waste!
And can you risk investing in a place where the City Council was not smart enough to monitor whether or not its highly paid, so-called “managers” were complying with the Clean Water Act lawsuit Consent Decree that Decayville Molalla signed in 2015? After two and a half years, it is easy to prove Decayville’s blatant non-compliance with that legal agreement – so chalk up who knows how much more legal fees and penalties down the public money waste rat hole.
Don’t hesitate to invest in Decayville Molalla if you enjoy seeing your tax dollars and fees wasted on incompetent, unethical management and on the outside lawyers who are paid with PUBLIC MONEY to try to cover up Decayville’s massive deficiencies! Maybe you are an “if wishes were horses, beggars would ride” naive investor who enjoys watching the failures who run Molalla flush public money down the drain. But if you can’t afford the risk of investing in a low quality train wreck that is trying to hide rude and costly coming rate hikes and has failed miserably to provide basic quality of life features for its citizens, cross Decayville Molalla off your real estate consideration list.
Before you dive into Decayville, compare Molalla’s “official” website to those of similar sized local cities, like Silverton, Sandy and Canby. Look for the minutes of City Council meetings, planning meetings. Look for newsletters – or the lack of any newsletters. Look especially at the budgets and google the cities to see what kind of stories you can find about how they cope with financial, infrastructure and social challenges. Take the time to attend a city council meeting and a planning meeting in a city you might be considering to check out the type of people – managers and elected citizens – running the city in question. Check all the records you can find, look for the presence or lack of parks and civic buildings.Read local chat FB pages – red flag if such pages require membership and approval because they are likely run by people with a vested interest in hiding the truth about local problems. Look at whether or not there is a thriving city center. Attend a school board meeting and read the District meeting minutes, state ratings and budgets. Don’t go blindly based on flowery words from real estate agents and cheaper than average prices!
REMEMBER: what looks cheap isn’t always a bargain! In the past real estate bust, Molalla was a state leader in foreclosure rates. If you invest in a “drive till you qualify”, ill planned, low quality, stuff em without regard to quality of life in city like Molalla, which lacks the money for required infrastructure upgrades, your real estate investment can plummet in a heartbeat. Can YOU risk owing a White Elephant in Decayville?