REDMOND, OR -- Redmond City Councilors will decide Tuesday whether to send an initiative to the May ballot for a public safety fee. City staff and the police department have spent several months hosting public meetings on the $6 monthly charge proposed for utility bills. City Manager Keith Witcosky isn’t sure what Councilors will decide, "We’ve just tried to provide them an inclusive list of options." He tells KBND News, "What we’ve been doing to date is just feeding back information to them, giving them data about the percentage of the people who support a fee or don’t support a fee. And, this would be the first comprehensive conversation we’ve had. We just want to make sure that they are fully informed so they can have a good conversation."
That conversation includes more than a half dozen options, ranging from approving the fee immediately to maintaining the status quo, "They have the authority to approve a fee on their own," says Witcosky, "They could also say, ‘we want voter input on this, so we want to refer a fee to the ballot and let the voters decide.’ If they want to fund it through taxes, they could put a temporary operating levy for voter decisions. They could also increase our permanent tax rate." If they choose to send any of those options to the May ballot, they must direct staff Tuesday to create a ballot title, so it can be approved at the next Council meeting on February 20.
Or, Witcosky says, "They could say, ‘we know that there’s public safety needs. We don’t know if we have additional resources now to bring to the table, but we’d like to see a budget that prioritizes those and get a sense of what the trade-off would be to other general fund programs. They could also say, ‘let’s continue this initiative and let’s target a public vote either this fall, or in 2019 or 2020’.” Or, he says, they could decide to do nothing and keep the police department's staffing at the current level.
Tuesday's City Council Metting begins at 6 p.m. at Redmond's City Hall.