Position was saved from chopping block last year

MilhauserFor the second year in a row, the position of sustainability coordinator is being considered for redlining from the city budget.

But Susan Milhauser’s role was fiercely defended during the May 1 Budget Committee meeting, with members of the Lake Oswego Sustainability Network arguing that a decision to defund the part-time position would undermine Lake Oswego’s stated community vision as a thriving and sustainable city.

Duke Castle reminded the budget committee that Milhauser had convened a task force to create the sustainability plan that was adopted by the Lake Oswego City Council in 2007, which led to last year’s decision in October 2013 to convert streetlights to LED light fixtures, a move expected to yield an annual savings of $240,000.

“Although it may be tempting to think that the position is superfluous and that a small amount of money could be saved, our view is that cutting this position is eventually going to cost the city much more than it will save,” Castle added.

Lake Oswego Sustainability Network member Jan Castle testified to the budget committee that Lake Oswego received a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Energy in the block amount of $157,900.

“Susan was able to leverage this fairly small amount of money to fund seven projects, six of which she managed,” Jan Castle said, explaining the city had been able to offer grants to homeowners and businesses for energy retrofits through the Clackamas County Energy Efficiency on Main Street program and the Clean Energy Works of Oregon program.

“She is very well-connected throughout her field, and leverages rather than duplicates services through the state, regional and county governments,” Jan Castle added.

The city’s Sustainability Advisory Board co-chair Lisa Adatto called Milhauser a liaison to the board, and said that since 2007, the city had seen an 11 percent reduction in energy consumption, a 2 percent reduction in water consumption, as well as a more than 60 percent increase in recycling efforts.

“That’s a cumulative savings of $67,000,” Adatto said.

Mary Ratcliff, also with the board, told the budget committee, “The sustainability coordinator is a direct conduit into the city organization for volunteers.”

The budget committee will reconvene this evening (Thursday).

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