EUGENE, Ore. (KMTR) – The Eugene City Council is asking the public to weigh in on the new city service fee proposal before deciding if they'll put it on the May ballot.
No decisions have been made, but the Eugene City Manager’s office is looking at setting the fee between $5 and s$7 per dwelling (house or apartment) or business per month. The fee would be no more than $10 a month.
The city is facing a $6 million budget gap this July. Money raised by the city service fee would go into maintaining existing city services. Specifically, the funds would go to help pay for fire and emergency medical services (EMS), human services, economic development and library services.
The city will take the service fee proposal to a public hearing next month. If it passes, the fee would go on the utility bill of any dwelling or business in Eugene's city limits.
The city says oversight would be another big component of the fee.
"An oversight committee similar to what we have with our street bond and that committee would check every year to say, 'did we spend the money in the way that the community wanted it to be spent?' We'd audit that and that would provide a level of accountability to the public,” says Jon Ruiz, Eugene’s City Manager.
The other component of the city's current budget process is a proposal to move Eugene Parks' funding source from the general fund to storm water fees.
With the funding switch, city councilors are also evaluating raising storm water fees. They’ll have a public hearing on storm water fee hikes on January 22 at 7:30 PM at Harris Hall in the Lane County Public Service Building. Councilors will likely decide on that fee hike without taking it to the ballot.
As for the city service fee, city administrators are also proposing help for low income households who may have trouble paying for the fee. Most likely, any financial help would be determined by the criteria set forth in EWEB's "Customer Care" program.
The city service fee goes up for a public debate on February 4 at 7:30 PM, also in Harris Hall in the Lane County Public Service Building in downtown Eugene.