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Ruth Post, Eric Niemann

Mayor Eric Niemann, left, presents City Recorder Ruth Post with a service award during the Jan. 14 city council meeting. Post has worked for the city for 20 years.

New development on a typical single-family residential property in Philomath will now cost an average of $26,172 in system development charges following a fee increase approved Jan. 14 by the Philomath City Council.

Each year, the city votes on increasing the SDCs based on annual construction cost adjustments. This year, the increase was larger than usual at 10.2 percent — compared to 3.3 percent last year.

City Manager Chris Workman said SDC increases help Philomath keep pace with inflation.

“By increasing our SDCs annually with this index, it allows us to make sure that the SDCs we’re collecting today will help pay for projects in today’s dollars,” Workman said.

A city ordinance requires that SDCs are adjusted annually using the Engineering News Review Construction Cost Index, which reports construction-related labor and materials costs using an average from various cities.

The example used for a typical residential property — which would include a three-fourths-inch water meter — saw an increase of $2,424.

SDCs cover infrastructure such as sewer, water, streets, stormwater and parks.

Workman said the construction industry has seen increasing costs for things such as concrete asphalt and lumber.

The council approved the SDC increase on a 7-0 vote.

In another matter that came before the council, Workman shared a recommendation that came out of a recent park advisory board meeting involving proposed tennis courts. The Philomath Tennis Courts Committee hopes to partner with the city to apply for a grant.

In addition, Workman said there has been discussion for the possibility of the city committing “upwards of $200,000” toward the tennis courts through substantial SDC income that has come in. The park master plan lists tennis courts as one of the top-priority projects and it would be eligible for SDC money.

“There’s a lot of discussion to be had still as you can imagine with the school district, with legal, and so there’s a whole lot of discussion to take place and prepare and wrap up and bring to the city council,” Workman said.

The issue is expected to be on the city council’s February agenda. City councilor Doug Edmonds suggested that the school district is invited to participate in the meeting.

“I did have a discussion with the school superintendent today making sure we were on the same page moving forward,” Workman said. “There’s shared concerns on both sides and again, we’re just tip of the iceberg in vetting this out. We really just want to get it out to the public as something we’re looking at — is it an appropriate use for SDC park dollars is kind of the bottom-line question.”

In other news from the Jan. 14 meeting:

• The city received a Gold Safety Award from CityCounty Insurance Services and the League of Oregon Cities in recognition of the Philomath’s low injury rate in the previous fiscal year. The injury frequency rate was 0 percent among 31 city employees.

• A service award was presented to City Recorder Ruth Post, who has put in 20 years of employment with the city.

• Public Works Director Kevin Fear reported that the contract bid request for the discovery park coming to 11th Street was to go out Wednesday. Contractors will have 30 days to submit bids. From the time that the bid is awarded, contractors will have 120 days to complete the project. Based on requirements attached to grant money, the project must be completed by Oct. 1.

• Post said that a new archiving program was activated for the city website and related social media accounts. The move puts the city in compliant with public records law with the ability to provide details related to posting documents and notices. The project had been identified in the city’s strategic plan as a way to increase transparency.

• Finance Director Joan Swanson reported on the timing of the upcoming budget season and also mentioned the quarterly budget summary included in councilor packets.

• Niemann recognized the late Charlie Hall, who served as mayor and city councilor in the 1960s. Hall died Dec. 3 at age 94.

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