West Linn raises fees for utilities, development charges, public records, more
A number of fees paid by West Linn residents, including utilities, are set to increase July 1.
The West Linn City Council approved the fee changes at a meeting June 13 to help balance the second half of the city's 2022-23 biennial budget.
"People are seeing rising prices everywhere, so I don't feel good about raising fees but the reality is the cost of these services are rising for us and we have to cover those costs," councilor Todd Jones said at the meeting.
Utilities like water, sewer, surface, streets and parks are all set to raise by 5% next month. According to the city finance department, these increases, which were recommended by the Utility Advisory Board earlier this spring, will generate an additional $680,000 per year for the city.
System development charges, one-time charges to developers for using city infrastructure, will increase by 5%. Public records fees are increasing from $20 per hour for the time it takes to fulfill the request to the hourly wage and benefits of the person fulfilling the request.
Council President Rory Bialostosky, the only council member to vote "no" on the fee increases, voiced concern about the cost increase for obtaining public records. Councilor Mary Baumgardner also said she did not want cost to become a barrier for residents trying to access information.
Bill Monahan of the city attorney's office explained that city staff can choose to waive fees if they determine releasing the information serves the interest of the broader public.
Monahan also said the fee was within the limits posed by the Secretary of State's Office and in line with public records fees of other cities.
Some records requests must be reviewed by the city's legal counsel, with those fees coming in as high as $300 an hour. This cost is passed on to the requestor, unless the city determines the disclosure of the information serves the public interest.
Mayor Jules Walters said the council could revisit and revise the fee if it determines the cost increases are prohibiting people from accessing records.
Jones added he wanted the city to make sure residents were aware of the coming fee increases, as well as programs like Low Income Utility Assistance that can help ease costs for households at or below 185% of the federal poverty level.
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