Don’t blame Public Works for fees, said director Steve King. It’s the Missoula City Council that sets ’em.
This week, the Public Works Committee took another look at sewer connection fees.* The $350 fee was set in 1986 and extended in 2001 and again in 2006. (The fee was listed as $300 in a memo but King said it’s actually $350.) The $1,400 fee kicked in this year, but someone who’d planned to pay just $350 was shocked to learn of the hike. So the Council is talking about offering a $500 coupon to help with the increase — though some councilors aren’t thrilled about yet another last chance at a good connection rate.
King passed along this history of fees.* At the meeting, Councilwoman Stacy Rye said she was less and less supportive of fees that grow by the leap instead of in small increments. In an e-mail, King shot back: “Although Ms. Rye somehow credited city staff for the OPG and Public Works fee structure, in fact the City Council sets fees.” Well, it sounds like at least one councilor is going to be taking a closer look at any recommendations for increases.
The fees affect work on the ground, and King’s gone Monday but he said other city officials are going to report how drops in projected revenue will affect other projects. The report at the Council meeting may help make up the minds of some council folks who weren’t keen on yet another extension of the super rate. It sounds like some of the “One day only” sales that are advertised for “Saturday and Sunday.”
— Keila Szpaller