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City staff will begin development of utility fee in Albany

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Albany City Hall STOCK PIX

Albany City Hall

Albany City Manager Peter Troedsson received approval from the City Council on Monday to build a car. Sort of.

Troedsson addressed the board, noting the upcoming budget gap the city is expecting and requested permission to begin developing a city utility fee. He told the Council it was akin to building a car and getting it ready to go.

Troedsson and staff would develop the fee — set to be included on residents’ utility bill — but the fee wouldn’t be implemented until the board took action. In November, residents will vote to turn over three of the current council seats. Councilors Rich Kellum, Mike Sykes and Bill Coburn will not be returning to the Council in 2021. Current board member Alex Johnson is running for mayor and if he wins the seat, his council position would have to be filled as well.

“In the absence of defined revenue sources, the department directors and I have begun making plans for service level reductions,” Troedsson wrote in a memo to the council. He noted that city leadership is preparing for the possibility of “extensive reductions in service levels” citing the long-known budget gap and the current COVID-19 pandemic as factors.

The development of the fee by staff would include identifying revenue requirements, selecting a rate structure, developing sample fee and bills and developing an internal system and database to implement the new fee.

Developing the the new utility fee now, Troedsson said, would help staff find the bugs in the city’s new financial system as well that is set to go live in January of 2021.

The council voted to allow preparation for the fee to begin but the fee would not be implemented until the council takes action. The body could also refer the question as to whether implement the fee to the voters.

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