Redmond public safety fee may go to voters in fall

May too soon; more officers may be in budget

Council deliberates on public safety fee

REDMOND, Ore. - The Redmond City Council on Tuesday night discussed at length a proposed public safety fee that would add six new officers to the city's police force, at a cost of $6 a month on homeowner's utility bill. 

Councilors were presented with varied alternatives to help guide the decision on whether and how to implement such a fee. 

The options included approving the fee through a council vote, referring it to voters, seeking a voter-approved levy, prioritizing more officers into the upcoming budget, or keeping things as they are. 

City staff said the months of community input show public agrees there's a need for more officers, but some don't agree with a $6 monthly fee. During the deliberation, many councilors agreed with that. 

Most councilors want the choice put before the voters, but believe May is too soon. They would also like to see a combination of the alternatives, such as lowering the monthly fee and including one or more needed officers into the development of the 2018-19 budget.

Such a move would mean money would have to be taken from other areas in the city, but no councilor expressed interest in implementing the fee immediately as is. 

"Such a fee is regressive in nature, and while I understand the desire for an expedient solution, I hope that as we continue forward and consider the options before us, we will focus on solutions that do not disproportionately impact lower-income families in our community," Councilor Jon Bullock said. 

Mayor George Endicott said, "Maybe add one officer if possible, for the budget year coming up, over and above what we have planned, and then possibly in November, go forward with a referral. I would leave it to the collective body whether that should be a fee or be a tax."

Redmond citizens at the city council meeting had varied reactions the proposed fee. Some said they were concerned that council had not analyzed all available solutions. Others thought it is a necessary way to fund more officers. 

No final decision was reached Tuesday evening, so the discussion will continue. 

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