Council makes good on promise to reduce levy

With the approval by voters of the new Sweet Home Fire and Ambulance District, the Sweet Home City Council agreed last week to reduce the final two years of its emergency services levy by the amount used by the Sweet Home Fire Department.

In fiscal year 2000-01, which ends June 30, the fire department received $149,186. Based on a built-in 3 percent increase in the levy each year, the council will reduce the levy by $153,662 next year, 2001-02, and $158,272 the following year, 2002-03.

The levy expires on June 30, 2003. To continue the $1.4 million levy, which will continue to fund police services, the city would need to approach voters prior to that date. City officials had planned on asking voters in the November 2002 general election to continue the levy.

Information contained in a previous The New Era story incorrectly stated that the fire department received $285,306 from that levy. That figure reflects the total expenses incurred by the fire department, excluding ambulance services.

The Sweet Home Fire and Ambulance District will finish the current fiscal year with the taxes received through the levy before switching to its new permanent rate, $1.50 per $1,000, and its own property tax revenues on July 1. Cash carryover from the current fiscal year will be used to pay expenses until next November when property taxes are collected.

At its Oct. 24 meeting, the City Council had tabled the resolution to reduce the levy until after the Nov. 7 election was completed. Councilmen had indicated that a resolution prior to the election might have been construed as support for the new fire and ambulance district.

During early discussions about the formation of a new fire district, several councilmen had indicated that they would be in favor of reducing the levy if the new fire district were approved to avoid double taxation on Sweet Home residents.

Present at the meeting and voting to reduce the property tax levy were councilmen Bob McIntire, Craig Fentiman, Jim Gourley, Mayor Tim McQueary, Dick Hill, Jim Bean and Robert G. Danielson.

In other business, the City Council:

– Announced a continuing vacancy on the library board. Persons interested in serving on the library board may contact Leona McCann at 367-5007 or City Hall at 367-8969.

– Approved a grant agreement for $17,240 from The Oregon Department of Transportation and the Sweet Home Senior Center to fund the Senior Center’s dial-a-ride service. The council considers the grant agreement each year.

– Approved a five-year agreement between the City of Sweet Home and ODOT to share road and highway maintenance services.

– Approved a building permit fee increase from $30 to $40 for manufactured dwellings and cabana installations. The new fee matches that established by the Department of Consumer and Business Service. The new fee takes effect on Dec. 1. The fee was last increased in 1999 from $20 to $30.

– Approved the waiver of $479.19 in building permit fees for East Linn Museum for the construction of a pole building. The new building will replace the former open-sided building that partially protected machinery.

– Adopted a resolution allowing the transfer of $40,917 from ODOT for the city’s budgeted street overlay program. In the agreement, the city exchanges $43,529 in federal funds with the state for the $40,917. The federal funds, if not used, would be forfeited to the state.

Using 100 percent of the federal funds, Public Works Director Mike Adams said, requires a cumbersome procedure. Exchanging the funds provide a greater cost savings and greater freedom in the use of the funds.