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smart-meters

Chris Foulke was one of five residents to testify at Monday's Corvallis City Council meeting on Pacific Power's plans to install "smarter meters" in city households. Foulke and others said the "opt out" fees are too high and that there are health dangers associated with the meters.

The Corvallis City Council unanimously approved language for the renewal of its local option property tax levy Monday night at the downtown fire station.

The levy renewal, if approved by the voters in November, would raise about $8.6 million in 2019-20, with the total rising to $9.7 million by year five in 2023-24.

Of the total raised in the first year, $4.6 million would go to parks programs, including the Osborn Aquatic Center, the Chintimini Senior and Community Center, parks maintenance and support of the Majestic Theatre.

A total of $3.6 million would go to library services, with $360,000 earmarked for local social service agencies.

If approved, the renewal would more than double what taxpayers are paying for the current levy. Councilors voted 8-0 on March 19 for a levy rate of $1.71 per $1,000 of assessed value. The rate of the current levy, which expires June 30, 2019, is 82 cents per $1,000. The current levy raises $4 million per year.

The $1.71 rate means the owner of property assessed at $350,000 would pay approximately $600 per year during the five-year run of the levy. The old levy charged approximately $285 per year.

Councilors still must pass a resolution by August that officially puts the levy on the ballot.

In other action, councilors:

• Unanimously authorized City Manager Mark Shepard to expedite payment of the more than $107,000 in legal fees that Benton County Circuit Court Judge Locke Williams ordered the city to pay landowners in the Timberhill area. The fees were incurred while the city was fighting a state order directing it to remove a planned development overlay on 200 acres north of the Walnut Boulevard-Kings Boulevard intersection. Removing the overlay and requiring “clear and objective” standards for review of development plans likely will make it easier for the owners to build on the property.

• Heard from five residents concerned about plans by Pacific Power to install "smart meters" in Corvallis households. Those testifying said the fees that the utility is is charging for those who want to opt out of the program are too high and that there are health dangers tied to the meters.

• Approved formal findings and four ordinances that will allow Samaritan Health Services to expand north of the Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center. Samaritan plans to add medical offices and parking on 17 acres it owns that were annexed into the city in February.

• Approved on an 8-1 vote land development code amendments aimed at streamlining the application process. The amendments will remove the requirements from the code, making them easier to update. Changing the land development code usually involves a three- to six-month process. One resident, Mary Frances Campana, representing the Northwest Alliance Corvallis, asked to hold the record open for two weeks to give the public more time to digest the changes.

A motion to hold the record open failed on a 5-4 vote, with Penny York (Ward 1), Roen Hogg (Ward 2), Charlyn Ellis (Ward 5), Nancy Wyse (Ward 6) and Hal Brauner (Ward 9) voting to close the record. Hyatt Lytle (Ward 3), Barbara Bull (Ward 4), Bill Glassmire (Ward 7) and Mark Page (Ward 8) favored a delay. Page cast the lone “no” vote on the main motion to approve the amendments.

• Approved a plan to declare the Bald Hill Reservoir House surplus property and authorize the Corvallis Fire Department to use it for a practice burn sometime next month.

Contact reporter James Day at jim.day@gazettetimes.com or 541-758-9542. Follow at Twitter.com/jameshday or gazettetimes.com/blogs/jim-day.

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