Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald



Baker City councilors could decide Tuesday whether to increase fees residents pay for a variety of services, and whether to add two new monthly charges when the fiscal year starts July 1.

Councilors will meet at 7 p.m. at Baker City Hall, 1655 First St.

Most of the city's fees are included in a single resolution that councilors review each year.

The basic idea is to adjust charges each year to reflect inflation and other changes to the city's cost to supply a particular service, ranging from water to dog licenses.

This year's resolution includes, as suggestions, two new fees:

andbull; Street maintenance

andbull; Stormwater maintenance

City officials haven't suggested an amount for either fee.

Ultimately, councilors will decide whether to impose either or both fees, and if so, the amount.

If the City Council approves the list of fee increases proposed by city staff, businesses seeking liquor licenses would see review fees rise from $10 to $75 for new applications, and a new $50 fee would be charged when businesses with liquor licenses change ownership.

Most fees for services at city-owned Mount Hope Cemetery would rise 20 percent. Exceptions are for mausoleum crypts, monument placement, and tent set ups - these prices would stay the same.

"These fees are still consistent with fees charged by other cemeteries in cities similar to the size of ours," said Jeanie Dexter, the city's finance director.

Building inspection fees - most of which haven't been increased since 2004 - would go up by 5 percent overall if councilors choose to raise the rates to be "more in line with the city of La Grande," Dexter said.

The councilors would discuss resolution 3677 and possibly consider the matter more deeply during a separate work session or at another councilor meeting.

Several planning fees are slated to go up. The increase is just $25 more for a variety of notification and public hearing services. Most of these services already are $375-$425. A couple of administrative fees with costs not specified would receive an established price.

Many water fees also would be higher based on meter size and size of the fire line. The increases vary depending on the size of the meter and could be less than a dollar or a few dollars a month. Mainline changes and water services installations also are slated for price increases, as are water meter drop fees and most wastewater fees.

These fees are based on either the Consumer Price Index of 3.1 percent or the construction cost index of 2.9 percent.

Dexter said the city doesn't charge for use of RV dumping stations and that councilors could consider creating this type of fee in the future by ordinance.

Dog licenses could be purchased for up to three years, at a per-year price lower than the current one-year permits. Seniors would see discounts as well as those with neutered dogs.

This would require an ordinance change as well. It's referred to as ordinance 3315.

Planning matters

The public hearing regarding ordinance 3310, amendments to the floodplain ordinance, is slated to re-open during this meeting.

The matter has been continued for several weeks with planning officials and councilors still hearing from the public.

Federal officials haven't provided the city with answers regarding zones with base flood elevations but no regulatory floodway. So the update would consider the area as it would the rest of the town.

The section about this specific concern has been omitted "and we will proceed to administer the regulations as if it were until such time that FEMA is able to update our flood study and maps," said Jenny Long, planning director.

The ordinance has several new definitions, including what constitutes an elevation certificate. It adds sources for obtaining market values for the section on "substantial improvements" and routine maintenance.

There's a description of what constitutes a "de minims development" - projects valued at less than $500 unless the project is grading, filling or excavating.

Information about fencing regulations has been expanded as well.

Also within the updated ordinance are criteria for non-structural land development, such as mining, dredging, filling, grading or drilling in the flood fringe area. These activities require the developer to obtain a development permit so city officials could keep track of resulting changes.

Open structures won't require elevation certificates.

The councilors could approve first reading of the ordinance during this meeting.

In another topic, resolution 3674 would set a policy for posting public notice signs informing the public of pending planning actions such as major construction projects.

The city isn't required by law to do so, but "increasing awareness of planning actions before a decision is made gives people a better opportunity to understand the process, and learn what they can do to make a difference," Long said.

The resolution stems from east-side residents being caught unaware last fall when a T-Mobile cell phone tower was built atop Spring Garden Hill.

City planning officials were only required to notify those situated within 100 feet of the project site though there were people not much farther away who would have opposed the tower had they known it was being planned.

Also on the agenda:

andbull; Beginning creation of the Anthony Silvers Street Tree Trust Fund through first-reading approval of ordinance 3314. Tree Board members would OK projects using earnings from this fund, which ended up totaling $744,042.

The Clifford Street property once owned by Silvers also is now city property. Councilors and committee members will begin considering what to do with the location, which is on the east side of the Powder River, across the river from Central Park, which is between Washington and Valley avenues.

andbull; Discussing the award of two $500 scholarships to student leaders who demonstrated outstanding community service. Anderson Perry and Associates financed the scholarships.

andbull; Hearing the annual aquifer storage and recovery well use report.

andbull; Setting sidewalk utility fee allocations.

andbull; Finish prioritizing goals for the coming fiscal year.

Finding Baker City Fees

A full list of the proposed fees for Baker City services is available in the City Council packet for Tuesday's meeting. To access the packet, go to the city's website: www.bakercity.com

Under the "Government" pull-down menu, click on "Council." Then click on "Agendas, Packets, and Minutes of City Council Meetings." Then click on "Packet" for the April 24 meeting.