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Hearing Scheduled on Hiking Utility Fees

May 30, 1996|LESLEY WRIGHT

Faced with a looming budget deficit of up to $3 million over the next few years, city officials have turned to utility fees as a possible solution.

Residents will voice their opinions on possible fee hikes at a public hearing and then possibly at the ballot box.

The first opportunity will be a hearing scheduled for July 16, when the City Council will vote on whether to put a fee hike on the November ballot.

Council members voted 3 to 2 Tuesday to hold the hearing on whether to put the issue to a general vote this year.

Mayor Patsy Marshall and Councilman Don Griffin voted against starting the process for the fee hike.

While emphasizing that her mind is not "set in concrete" about the ballot measure, Marshall said she thought this year's election was too soon to convince voters that the hike is vital to city functions.

"I'm worried about whether we can inform the voters by November," she said. "We're going to have explain to citizens why it is necessary, that these are the services that need to be cut if we don't."

The city now takes in about $1.8 million annually from utility fees, said Finance Director Greg Beaubien. If the fees were increased from 3% to 5%, the city would collect an additional $1.2 million.

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