Joseph Martin’s vow to make a citizen’s arrest Tuesday night on the members of the Baker City Council was political theater.

But Martin’s stunt, which didn’t result in any actual arrests, reflects the real, and legitimate, anger of many city residents over the Council’s approval of a monthly public safety fee.

The fee, which will be charged starting July 1, is $3 per residence and $6 per business. It will raise an estimated $183,000 per year and help the city avoid layoffs in the police and fire departments.

We’re glad the layoffs won’t be necessary.

But the fact remains that the main reason Baker City residents and business owners have to extricate City Hall from its budget morass is a pair of poor decisions the City Council made last spring, at the recommendation of city officials.

We’ve reported extensively on both of those mistakes — budgeting revenue from a property sale that didn’t happen, and expecting that hiring a private firm to handle ambulance billing to significantly boost the city’s revenue. In fact, the opposite has happened.

But though we’re disappointed that the City Council imposed the public safety fee — largely because of its regressive nature, which puts a much greater burden on residents least able to afford it — we were encouraged by comments from some councilors during Tuesday’s meeting.

Loran Joseph said his goal is to have the city in a financial position next spring that it can cancel the public safety fee, making it a one-year imposition.

Adam Nilsson said the city must strive to ensure the fee is temporary.

We’ll closely follow the city’s progress. And we’re certain that many of the people writing bigger checks starting July 1 will be watching, too.

From the Baker City Herald editorial board. The board consists of publisher Kari Borgen, editor Jayson Jacoby and reporter

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