Oroville City Council approves increase in ad valorem, EMS taxes

OROVILLE – The Oroville City Council voted to increase the ad valorem tax by the maximum one percent allowed under state law at their Tuesday, Nov. 8 meeting.

Washington State law allows up to a one percent increase on the tax, which is collected based on the property valuation within the city limits. Any greater increase than one percent must be approved by a vote of the people. Last year’s tax amounted to $244,111. The increase of $2,441 means this year’s tax will be collected in the amount of $246,552, according to City Clerk/Treasurer Kathy Jones.

Councilman Tony Koepke made the motion to approve the increase, Ordinance 808, and Councilman Ed Naillon made the second. It passed unanimously.

The council also agreed to increase the amount to be collected in the 2012 Special Emergency Medical Services (EMS) District levy by one percent, or $187. The 2012 levy amount to be collected from those living in the city limits will total $18,887. Naillon made the motion to approve Ordinance 809 and Koepke made the second and it too passed unanimously.

“This is the sixth and final year of the special levy and we need to be thinking about putting another levy before the voters,” said Jones.

The council approved a preliminary budget for fiscal year 2012 of $6,276,680. The budget is a $92,000 decrease from the revised 2011 budget, according to Jones.

“Most of the decrease is due to the completion of the farmworker housing by the housing authority and the Main Street grants,” said Jones. “Included in the budget are funds to extend water and electricity to 20 spots at Veterans Memorial park and some sprucing up of city hall, carpet, etc.”

Budget workshops have been scheduled in the council chambers on Tuesday, Nov. 22 and Tuesday, Nov. 29 at 6:30 p.m.

In addition, Jones reported the city is still negotiating with the federal government on water allocation and system development fees for the new U.S. Border Patrol station being constructed north of town near the Port of Entry.

Also under old business, the council voted to amend the current sewer ordinance to allow provisions discussed at the previous council meeting. There will be exceptions to the requirement for connection to city water and sewer for city-owned recreation property, property only used for growing with sanitary facilities provided and for seasonal processing of agricultural products for 90 days or less, said Chris Branch, director of community development.

Under new business, Jones informed the council there were four $1000-scholarships available from the Association of Washington Cities this year.

“With our high school senior project requirements and hours nearly every senior project would make our students eligible,” said Councilman Naillon, a teacher in the Oroville School District.

The council agreed to contact the school district with a list of requirements the city would like to see fulfilled in their application.

“Talking about new senior projects, I’d like to see one or two seniors take over the project where the flowers were planted along the new sidewalk,” said Koepke.

On an unrelated subject, Jones suggested the city look into the possibility of playground equipment for the day use part of Veterans Memorial Park.

Fire Chief Rod Noel said he had met with the Rural Fire Commissioners about splitting the cost of the 50-foot ladder truck offered for sale to the city by the Omak Fire Department for $15,000. Noel said a 30/70 split was suggested, but the rural fire commissioners said they would pay for the truck and that the city could pay for the modifications to the fire station which will run around $10,000. The modifications include cutting concrete to form, a taller door and installation of a new roll-up garage door which has already been purchased.

Noel also reported that the new school speed reduction signs with lighted beacons were up.

“The signs came in 15 boxes and we were responsible for putting them up,” Noel said. “The batteries are in and the solar panels up… now the school is responsible for scheduling the timing for the lights.”

Lastly, Jones said $4895 has been raised on the Buy-A-Light program to pay for the new holiday street decorations. The city has ordered 36 of the new poinsettia silhouette decorations and is still accepting donations toward paying for them.