Government: City Mulls Public Works and Safety Fee Increases, County Increases Waste Fees, Transpo Upgrades Slated 

Upcoming Transportation Projects: The transportation system throughout Benton County could see some major upgrades including bus stop improvements and vehicle replacements. The Statewide Transportation Improvement Fund (STIF) Committee presented Benton County’s STIF Plan for the FY23-25 to the Benton County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday.  

Of the proposed projects would be transit fleet security fencing for Benton County area for $125,000, bus stop improvements for $50,000, and $225,000 for vehicle replacements. Plans to move forward with the funding for the projects were unanimously approved by the commissioners in order to move forward.  

“According to estimates provided by the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) in early September 2022, the STIF Discretionary Fund and the Statewide Transit Network Program have $13.5 million and $15 million available, respectively, for the upcoming FY23-25 cycle, said Brad Dillingham, Benton County Special and Rural Transportation Coordinator. “All Oregon PTSPs can access these funds for appropriate projects, pending a Letter of Interest, which was due October 10th, and an application due November 30th.” 

There is an estimated $4,800,576 available to Benton County’s STIF Plan for the FY23-25 biennium. Of this total, $496,474 is part of the population-based money and $4,304,102 is part of the payroll-based portion, according to Dillingham.  

“In addition to the projected new funds coming in, Benton County has $1,049,838 in carryover funds available in the Unanticipated Projects of Regional Significance (UPRS) from the current STIF plan. Finally, all funding from unfinished FY21-23 STIF projects, including several that weren’t started due to factors related to the pandemic, will also be carried over to the FY23-25 biennium. Staff estimates that Benton County will have approximately $5.5 to $6 million available in the FY 23-25 biennium,” said Dillingham.  

One of the projects would be upgrades to garages in Corvallis and Philomath for $35,000. This project includes energy efficiency improvements to the garage facility that serves Corvallis Transit System and Philomath Connection, including the installation of a curtain to divide the space, a large fan to bring heat down from the ceiling and a programmable thermostat to reduce heat waste at night.  

Another project would be a fare moratorium for the Benton Area Transit for $15,000. Benton Area Transit (BAT) is proposing to remove the required fare for eligible passengers utilizing its BAT Lift service. BAT Lift is a curb-to-curb transportation service provided to seniors (65+) and people with disabilities throughout the geographic area of Benton County.  

In early 2023, all applications will be reviewed by the Oregon Department of Transportation selection committee, Public Transit Advisory Committee, and the Oregon Transportation Commission, approved projects will be announced in April/May of 2023. 

County Rate Increase: Some residents in Benton County will see a small rate increase for recycling and disposing of waste. Effective Jan. 1, 2023, the annual Refuse Rate Index (RRI) will see a 4% increase compared to this year.  

“We have all struggled with an uncertain economy. Among the most impactful to our industry has been the volatility and high price of fuels,” said Julie Jackson, Municipal Relations Manager. “We have almost weathered 2022, saw fuel prices moderate and now go back up. With that in mind and even though the proposed calculated adjustment is much higher, we are adjusting the RRI to reflect our best estimate of fuel pricing for 2023.” 

This increase equates to an average of $1.17 per month for residential customers inside the county and outside of city limits.  

City Council Also Considers Fees: The agenda for Monday’s city council meeting includes staff recommendations for several rate increases. For instance, a public works increase of $6.74 per month for the average single-family residence. For police, the average fee has been $8.70 and staff are recommending an increase of $3.50 a month. 

Likewise, fire is currently $.4.94 monthly, and a $2.00 increase is being recommended. Mostly, inflation and years without increase are cited as necessitating the increases. 

City staff recommendations to the councilors can be found in the Dec. 5 meeting packet. As usual the meeting starts at 6 p.m. For more information about attending or offering public comment, click here. 

By: Jennifer Williams 

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