Albany council discusses fee increases – Hasso Hering

HASSO HERING

A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Albany council discusses fee increases

Written July 6th, 2020 by Hasso Hering

Albany City Hall, where the council has not been meeting because of the corona concerns, one day last month.

Residents outside the Albany city limits would have to pay more than city taxpayers to get into the community pool at South Albany High School.  That’s one of a long list of fee increases the city council considered Monday.

For example, a single youth admission to the indoor pool now costs $4.25. That would rise to $4.50 for city residents and $6 for nonresidents. An annual youth pass now costs $275. This is proposed to rise to $292.50 for residents and $390 for people outside the city.

So far, the rates at the community pool are the same for people inside and outside the city limits. Fiscal year 2020-21, which has just started, would be the first for the differential based on residence.

Councilors seemed to favor the differential for that and other parks and recreation programs on the grounds that city residents already contribute through their property taxes.

Nobody pointed out that the indoor community pool is on property owned by the Albany school district (actually, still the former Union High School District, according to the county assessor), so its owners presumably include taxpayers inside the city and out.

Parks Director Kim Lyddane told the council that income from recreation fees was expected to drop 50 percent because of the coronavirus.

Monday’s work session was another virtual meeting. The council has been avoiding City Hall because of corona. Instead members meet online, each from a separate place. Monday’s agenda covered proposed fee hikes for fire inspections, land use and planning permits, as well as parks and recreation.

Among other things, councilors want higher fees for repeat fire inspections made necessary by violations. First inspections now are free. The fire department proposed to charge $100 for the first one and each additional one. But the council wants the repeat inspection fees to be stiffer.

I didn’t catch it all, but as near as I could tell no decisions were made. Instead councilors asked for changes in some of the proposals, to be presented again at another work session in a couple of weeks. (hh)


Posted in: Commentary, News

7 responses to “Albany council discusses fee increases”

  1. Rich Kellum says:

    Hasso,
    It is true that the School District owns the pool, but the fees are based on operating expenses, the school does not pay for that, and the school gets time in the pool for its own use, which includes students from all of the district.

  2. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    “Any action by the Albany City Council that imposes a new tax or fee, or increases an existing tax or fee, shall be submitted to the voters and approved by at least a majority of the votes cast thereon, before taking effect.”

    Any guesses on how Albany residents would vote if the above initiative were on the ballot?

  3. Steven Reynolds says:

    I will commend the city council for asking about costs lately, most recent example was asking staff what the “real” cost was to offer services to Millersburg, staff didn’t know when asked, they had to go back and figure it out. The past concept of the public sector saying here’s our expenses just collect revenue to cover, has always been a recipe for community financial hardship, that’s how you end up with a $175 million dollar budget in a small town of 50k people, that’s $3500 per person a year, $291 a month, or a $1.61 per hour on a 40 hour work week, a $12 dollar an hour job is actually $10.39 before all other deductions (doesn’t include state, school, or county budgets that also have to be paid for). I hope when city council turns over this November, we have those that have a sound understanding of basic free market principles elected to these leadership positions.

  4. James Engel says:

    As to a pool…let the brats go swim in the river (Willamette/Columbia) as I did as a kid in Portland. Close the place down & save $$. I also drank from a hose! Fees, fees, fees,…just like fleas, they get to you. All the government seems to do is increase this, increase that. How about doing away with this & that to really save $$. I’ll probably go to my grave with a tax notice stuffed in my hand!

 

 
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