City attorneys are looking into the legalities of having the City Council get the last word on fee hikes in the yard waste collection program whose cost is set to rise 70 percent to cover its expenses.
City Councilor Mike Rimcoski said he made “a bad error” in mistakenly backing the increase from $50 to $85 annually during a recent Public Works Board meeting.
“It was my fault for letting it slip through,” Rimcoski said. “I dropped the ball.”
But, he said, the council “should have the final say” rather than letting department jack up fees so sharply without any direct council involvement.
“If we’re going to take the grief for it,” Rimcoski said, then politicians ought to have a role in setting fees that residents have to pay.
Mayor Art Ward said that departments have to take the responsibility of making sure that fees cover the cost of operating programs.
“They should have the jurisdiction over their operation,” the mayor said, adding that he’s ordered them to review their fees in anticipation of the next budget to make sure that fees are keeping up with expenses.
City Councilor Craig Minor said that politicians need to know “when to draw the line” in overseeing charges to residents.
He said that he generally favors letting departments deal with fees themselves or councilors could wind up weighing what library fines should be.
Dale Clift, the city attorney, said his office will take a look at the relevant ordinances and determine the authority for setting fees.
He said that once lawyers figure out which legal provisions apply, they’ll refer the issue to the proper committees, including the council and public works panel.
Public works commissioners hiked the fee for the yard waste collection program this summer after recognizing the $50 annual charge it has had for nearly a decade wasn’t enough to cover rising costs.
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