If you pay Albany water and sewer bills, you may prepare yourself to start paying an additional monthly fee to support the functions and services of the municipal government.
For a couple of years, the city staff and council have been talking about adopting a utility or city services fee, as many other Oregon cities already have. The city says a fee is needed because expenses keep rising faster than existing revenue including property taxes.
At a work session Monday, councilors learned they’ll be asked to decide on such a fee when they meet on March 24.
Before this year, a majority of four members of the council said they would not impose the fee without voter approval. But three of the four are no longer on the council. The fourth, Alex Johnson II, is now mayor and no longer has a vote unless there’s a tie.
The only present councilor who said, during last year’s campaign, that the voters should decide on the fee issue is Matilda Novak.
Two others who won election last November, Ray Kopczynski and Marilyn Smith, said they would have the council decide. Because they did not insist in earlier discussions on getting the voters involved, I expect Councilors Dick Olsen and Bessie Johnson to join them.
As for newly appointed Stacey Bartholomew, she has said nothing about the fee idea.
The amount of the added monthly fee and other details have yet to be worked out. But by the end of next month, Albany ratepayers will likely know how much more they will be expected to pay. (hh)