The Corvallis City Council approved a property tax levy Monday night for the November ballot that would leave Fire Station No. 5 closed, add Sunday hours for the library and charge Oregon State University for police services.
The levy, if approved, would produce about $3.2 million per year for five years and cost property owners approximately 82 cents per $1,000 in assessed value. The levy also would raise $600,000 per year to offset the loss of property tax revenue in the Hewlett-Packard tax appeal case.
An amendment to reopen Fire Station No. 5, closed by 2012 budget cuts, was defeated, but councilors, after a vigorous debate, voted 7-2 to essentially charge OSU for police assistance.
The proposed new levy includes funds for three community police officers, whose primary duty would be to ease neighborhood livability issues arising from Oregon State enrollment growth. The plan is contingent upon OSU chipping in to pay for an additional officer as a gesture of good faith. If OSU says no and the levy passes, only two officers would be funded.
“It’s time to put their feet to the fire,” Ward 9 Councilor Hal Brauner said of the university, which has been criticized for not paying for city services it uses. “Sometimes you have to do things to get results.”
“I will vote yes,” said Council President Richard Hervey. “I’ve been hearing from citizens over and over about this.”
Steve Clark, OSU vice president for marketing and university relations, expressed concerns about the move in a telephone interview.
“I’m surprised that the council would take an action like this without talking to the university first,” Clark said. “I look forward to hearing more, but how they can get to this point without having that conversation in advance is very difficult to ponder.”
The proposed levy is designed to replace one that expires June 30, 2014. The current levy raises $1.9 million per year for the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library, the Osborn Aquatic Center, the Senior Center and some social services.
That levy tacked on 45 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, costing the owner of a $200,000 home $90 per year. The new levy, if approved by voters, would increase that to $163 per year.
The new levy would continue to fund the library, pool, Senior Center and social services at the same level as before.
Here is a look at other services to be supported by the levy:
• The addition of a long-range planner and more code enforcement for the Community Development Department.
• The addition of a fire prevention officer.
• In addition to continuing the library services in the current levy, the new one would restore Sunday hours.
• The Corvallis Police Department also would add a resource officer to work in the schools.
ON THE LEVY
Here is a look at services approved by the Corvallis City Council for a property tax levy on the November ballot:
Service FTE, Cost
Planner 1.0, $97,340
Code enforcement 0.5, $38,700
Fire prevention officer 1.0, $138,550
HP appeal 0.0, $600,000
Library Monday hours* 3.0, $218,410
Library materials/services* 4.25, $782,140
Library Sunday hours 0.0, $62,240
Osborn Aquatic Center* 4.6, $426,640
Senior Center* 3.25, $319,010
Community police officers 3.0, $308,560
School resource officer 1.0, $102,180
Social services* 0.0, $106,340
Total 21.60, $3,200,110
Note: * refers to services from the current levy that would be renewed