Molalla Council looks at fee setup
Molalla City Council members spent much of their Feb. 28 meeting discussing changes to the city's municipal code ordinances even though staff hadn't finished checking the codes.
Currently, city fees are buried within the ordinances, but staff is working on a project to separate all fees onto a schedule.
This will allow council members to change them as needed without changing the ordinance.
Kelly Richardson, city recorder, recently began going through the municipal ordinances and codes, separating out the fees to provide a fee list. Noting there are outdated sections of code listed with the fee amounts, she and Dan Huff, city manager, determined the changes are necessary.
For example, the city at one point charged $25 for late charges on water bills. Before that it charged $5. Bills are due on the day received, but there is a 15-day grace period to get the money in. The $5 late fee wasn't enough, according to Richardson, but the $25 fee was too much.
"Before changing to the $25 fee, we had about 60 residents paying late fees," she said. "The change turned that around to about 600, which cost the city even more to send out the late notices."
She and council members felt there has to be a better way.
"With the fee built into the code it's hard to keep track," she said.
"There probably are 100 different fees, all of which are attached to a resolution. These include everything from planning and system development to administrative, water, sewer and storm water and even Fix-it Tickets," said Gerald Fisher, public works director.
"The codes haven't been updated since 2016," said Huff. "We need to do some housekeeping to get these numbers out of code."
Since Richardson hadn't completed the process, Mayor Jimmy Thompson asked that she continue to update, finish the ordinances and separate the fees to make a complete fee schedule.
Richardson said it could be finished by March 9, allowing council members time to become familiar with the process to vote on changes by the March 14 council meeting.
The street maintenance issue again was on the agenda, but was skipped over because the council had discussed it sufficiently at previous meetings, said Huff.
"There was really nothing [more] to talk about," he told the Pioneer. He planned to have a statement, explaining the ordinance, ready for the voter's pamphlet before the March 15 deadline, he said.