Grow, Gift, Repair

HCA compliance

Since the start of the case, the company has argued that the city of Salem does not have the power to decide which companies get host agreements. Instead, according to Mederi, the city should issue agreements to all applicants and let the commission determine which ones receive licenses.

A question of fees

Feeley and Sheehan’s back-and-forth lasted for 44 minutes and repeatedly focused on the state statute saying communities can deal in a 3-percent community impact fee. Sheehan argued the wording signifies that there can be nothing more than 3 percent overall, while Feeley repeatedly suggested the specific inclusion of the word “impact” in the latest version of the law meant that the 3-percent limit only applied to that specific fee.

“The charitable contributions would be… I don’t know about whether it’s a fee, but let’s assume it’s a fee… it certainly isn’t directly proportional to the costs,” Feeley said. “The transportation fee, it’s closer, but I don’t know if it’s reasonably related. There has been a change.”

“Somebody made sure the city isn’t getting more from the establishment than what it costs the city that establishment to operate,” Sheehan responded. “Giving it a name, I suggest respectfully, doesn’t mean what the city says it means — and what ‘that’ means is the city is free to charge any other fees unless it’s called a ‘community impact fee.’ That’s pay-for-play, and pay-for-play isn’t what we wanted here. In fact, it’s the opposite.”

In the city’s response, assistant solicitor Victoria Caldwell said the $25,000 donation to charities and the three fees were established in negotiations with ATG, at which point they became the standard for all other businesses to sign on to as part of applying with the city.

“We weren’t getting into a pay-to-play situation, because we set down a minimum criteria,” Caldwell said. “If people were going to offer more, we would certainly take that, but we weren’t going to ask for more.”