Government: Wyse Takes City Council Questions on Justice Project Spending, Fees Decided for Right-of-Way and Low-Income Housing

How Much Businesses Will Pay for Right of Way: One much anticipated agenda item at the March 6 Corvallis City Council meeting, fee setting for the 2023 Business Use of Right-of-Way (BROW) Pilot Program. 

The council unanimously approved a resolution to set the fee amount of $200 per parking space for a full season from April 1, 2023 to October 31, 2023. If a business applies to use street space that is not in a delineated automobile parking space, that area would be assessed at $1 per square foot.  

Another option in the program would be a per space fee for $29 each month. Councilor Laurie Chaplin attempted to amend the resolution to change the fee amount from $29 to $50 due to the difference in the parking space and included sidewalk.  

“I noticed that the parking rate was $29 dollars per space based off the usage of the sidewalk and I personally think there is a difference between a sidewalk and a parking space,” said Chaplin.  

A number of councilors spoke out against the amendment including councilor Paul Shaffer “I think one of the questions is how much businesses want to spend and how much are they willing to spend. The only comments that I’ve gotten on this issue came not from any body connected to local businesses residents who got to these places.”  

The amendment to raise the individual parking space fee per month failed in a vote of 2 to 6.  

Wyse Takes City Questions on JSIP Spending: Prior to a vote of support for the Benton County Justice System Improvement Program (JSIP) at the March 6 meeting, the council got to rapidly fire questions to Benton County Commissioner Nancy Wyse about the cost of the project.  

The cost breakdown for the $110 million dollar bond measure that will go before the voters in May includes, $64.3 million towards a correction facility, $40.4 million towards a sheriff’s office, $1.5 million toward the remodel of the sunset building and $3 million for the homeless navigation center. The final amount according to Wyse is $.8 million for the issuance of the bond.  

Several councilors asked for more information regarding the total breakdown in cost for the project, and with that concerns over how the county plans to execute a successful implementation and plan for this project to “ensure success”.  

“Implementation will include support from staff, our internal team overseeing this. There will also be a bond oversight committee and they will meet monthly,” said Wyse. “The bottom line is that we have a budget and that’s the budget that we need to stay with. If there is any inflation or extra costs, we will just have to live within those original costs.” 

In addition to the bond measure, the county has also asked the State Legislature for $5 million dollars for the emergency operations center, and in conjunction with Corvallis Daytime Drop-in Center for $10.2 million for the Navigation Center.  

“If the legislature does not come through with the $5 million then we do have some back stops which include $4 million in ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) dollars which we did originally identify for other purposes but that can be used as a back stop in this instance,” said Wyse. “We have also held off on our CIP (capital improvement plan) process until after we know what happens with the bond. So, revenue from the CIP could also be used as a back stop.”  

Council member Paul Schaffer ended the Q & A to voice his frustrations at the ‘last minute’ request of the council to ‘accept this on faith and not on facts’. Ultimately Shaffer and Charlyn Ellis declined to support endorsing the upcoming bond measure the remaining council did vote in support of the project.  

Application Fees: The Corvallis City Council voted to approve the application fees for the Multiple Unit Property Tax Exemption (MUPTE) and Low-Income Rental Housing Property Tax Exemption (LIRPTE) programs at the March 6 meeting.  

The fee amount was set at $5,000 per project for both the MUPTE and LIRPTE programs and passed unanimously by the council with no discussion. 

By Jennifer Williams  

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