As the City Council prepares for a final public hearing Wednesday on a fee proposal to pay for street repairs, a group of opponents is collecting signatures to try to move the issue before voters.
Under the much-debated plan, property owners would be assessed $1.5 million a year, between $18 and $90 a year per household depending on whether the property is on a public or private street. The city would pay about $2.4 million a year into the assessment district.
The proposal has met with opposition from some residents who say the city should pay for the entire street improvement program. They now are trying to collect enough signatures to place the issue on the ballot.
The residents need to gather about 6,000 signatures from registered voters and about 11,500 signatures from property owners to qualify a ballot measure, City Clerk Myrna Erway said. The signatures must be submitted to the city clerk before the council considers the issue Wednesday.
"We are giving it our best shot," said organizer John Koch, who added that the group has been canvassing supermarkets and going door-to-door to gather signatures. "If we don't get the required signatures, we are hopeful that we will at least get the council to reconsider the issue."
Koch said residents have collected about half the signatures they need and would seek to place the measure before voters during the March, 1996, primary election.
This is the council's third attempt in three years to come up with an acceptable plan to pay for repair of the city's streets, half of which are substandard, officials said. The proposal includes a cap on the assessment, as well as a "sunset clause," which would eventually shift the burden of financing the street repairs to the general fund.
If the proposal does not go forward on Wednesday, the city will come back with amendments to the plan, City Manager Michael W. Parness said.