City Council Hears Highlights of Brewery Investigation; Council Instructs Corporation Counsel to Negotiate to Resolve the Matter..

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Shipyard Brewing Co. is at the Center of a Billing Dispute

By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,018)

Last night the City Council went into executive session to decide how to settle the billing dispute with Shipyard Brewing Co. regarding back unpaid sewer taxes. This move came following the presentation of a report to the council from attorney Bryan Dench who had been investigating the matter since February 24, 2012. Dench filed his report with the city on April 6, 2012.

Reporting highlights from his 80 page document, Dench emphasized the investigation was seriously handicapped by the lack of records available and the fact that David Peterson, Portland Water District, who does the billing for the city, died in 2008. Highly respected and a thorough record keeper, it remains pretty much a mystery as to how this mistake in billing Shipyard came about.

And Dench made it clear that he found no wrongdoing among any of the parties involved; including the City of Portland, the Portland Water District and Shipyard Brewing Company. However, it is hard for mhn.com to see why the City isn’t at fault for making a billing error, especially when there were opportunities to correct the situation and it didn’t happen. However, Dench knows who pays his bills and who is more apt to be a client of his in the future, again.

In 1995, Shipyard expanded its production up to 80,000 barrels by installing a 6 inch pipe. This caused a significant increase in waste water for which the brewery was never billed. In fact, in a handwritten scribble by Peterson, PWD was informed not to bill Shipyard. In the intervening years, there were questions raised about the billing there, but no proper follow-up occurred – until about a year ago.

On his behalf, Fred Forsley, president of the brewery, testified that he was relieved the report has been completed. The controversy around the issue has called into question his integrity and had been hard on him and his employees. He reminded the council of the positive effects his business has had on the community including; creating jobs, it has helped non-profits, and it made vast improvements on an abandoned warehouse at the bottom of the Hill. He said his sewer bill has gone from $15,000. per month to $55,000. per month.

Attorney Nathan Smith said: “…it’s tempting to exact a pound of something on them…but the bigger issue is the kind of companies we want here in Portland.”

No invoice for services rendered has been forwarded to the city for the work of Mr. Dench as of yet.

For more background information, please visit Post # l,084, dated February 16, 2012.