The New Era - All about Sweet Home since 1929

Councilors raise city service fees


January 31, 2018

File Photo FEES for city planning and other services are being raised. The cost has increased between two to five times for for engineering and GIS data.

Of The New Era

The Sweet Home City Council added and increased a number of fees during its regular meeting on Jan. 24.

Staff recommended the increases following the city's annual review of its fee schedule.

City Manager Ray Towry offered the council some “comparables.”

“We looked at what our current is, what our proposed is, what Lebanon charges and what Albany charges."

Among changes, Sweet Home Police Department will begin charging after responding to three false alarms. Previously, it did not begin charging until the fourth. The initial fee increased from $20 to $25. For the fifth and sixth false alarm, the charge is $50, and for the seventh and each subsequent alarm, the caller will be charged $100.

The city will begin charging a $25 fee for peddler's licenses. Previously, it was available at no charge. Albany charges $25, and Lebanon charges $50. Last year, the Police Department processed nine peddler's license applications.

The fee for fingerprinting will increase from $10 to $20 for city residents and $30 for non-residents.

Fees for about a dozen individual planning actions increased by about 2 to 14 percent, with most increases around 7 percent.

Towry said the Community and Economic Development Director recommended the fees based on the cost of the actions.

Municipal lien recording increased from $60 to $70, and passport photos will be $15, up from $10, for a set of two photos, based on increasing costs for personnel and supplies.

Numerous other fees remained unchanged.

The council voted 7-0 to approve the increases. Present at the meeting were Bob Briana, Susan Coleman, Lisa Gourley, Mayor Greg Mahler, Dave Trask, James Goble and Diane Gerson.

Towry suggested altering the way the city handles fee adjustments in the future, and the council will discuss it during an upcoming extended training session in February.

"This type of system is something I think we should talk about and how we approach the philosophy of setting fees so that we're all on the same page of what we want to do,” Towry said. "If it's a public good program, it's good for everybody, there is no cost recovery mandate. We're just going to make sure it happens. It's a merit-good program, it's good for the community but it's not essential, we might have a 50-percent cost recovery mandate for all of our fees.

“And then there's a private good program, in which a private entity is coming in here and essentially using our resources and attempting to make a profit or something to that effect, in which case we would want to recover 100 percent of our fees and our expenses involved in that process.”

At the Police Department, the council may want to recover 100 percent of the cost, Towry said. At building and planning, the city wants to encourage people to continue to go to the city, so the city wants to be easy to work with. The council may want to recover 50 percent to 75 percent of its expenses, Towry suggested.

“We can work to put what some common percentages would be, what's kind of the norm in that realm of cost recovery,” he said. "Those are things we might want to think about in the future where instead of reviewing current fees, you're going to tell us how you want us to set the fees and the fees are just going to do that. Then we don't have to worry about a penny here or a penny there. It's just council knows staff's going to keep a record of here's our expenses, we have to recover X amount and we're all going to be philosophically more on the same page."

In other business, the council:

n Appointed Anna Coleman, a junior, and Sicily Neuschwander, a freshman, to the Youth Advisory Council.

n Appointed Bob Dalton to the Park and Tree Committee. His term will end Dec. 31, 2021. Other applicants were Bill Marshall and Lance (Wally) Shreves. The committee interviewed candidates on Dec. 12 and Jan. 9 and recommended that the council appoint Dalton.

n Approved the closure of 14th Avenue, from Elm Street to Kalmia Street, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Feb. 10 during which time the Sweetheart Run will be held.


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