FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. Why are these public forums occurring?
City Council has directed staff to conduct a public participation process intended to inform the community about the need to increase staffing at the Redmond Police Department, and to potentially pay for this staffing increase through a monthly Public Safety Fee. The fee level under discussion would be $6.00/month. Staff has been asked to report back to Council what they have heard from the community in February 2018.
2. What is a Public Safety fee?
A Police Public Safety fee is a monthly fee charged to each ‘developed’ property in Redmond (residential, commercial, industrial). The fee will be entirely dedicated to hiring police officers in the City of Redmond. For every $1/month fee the City will be able to hire one full-time patrol officer.
3. Why is it needed?
The City currently has 38 sworn police officers. A staff of 38 officers is only one more than the City had in 2008, when our population was approximately 25,000. Staffing has not kept pace with population growth and we have fallen below the industry which recommends we have 46 officers for a City of our size (approximately 28,000). The suboptimal staffing level can be put into context when you consider our patrol officers respond to +/- 23,000 calls for service each year. This is a very large volume for a department of our size.
4. How will the Community benefit from additional police officers?
Increasing the size of the Redmond Police Department by six officers will result in six direct benefits to community safety:
This will boost the average patrol team size from 3.2 officers per shift to 4.4. This results in a 38% increase in the size of our patrol teams.
The establishment of a dedicated two-person drug enforcement unit. This will increase the officer hours dedicated to dealing with drug related crimes from 508 hours to 3,708. That’s a 630% increase.
An increase from 5 to 32 in the annual number of complex drug related operations/police missions carried out by the Police Department.
More time and officers to focus on traffic safety and speeding by proactively patrolling high accident intersections, school zones, and other areas where people overlook the speed limit and traffic laws. The Police projects a 3% decrease in traffic accidents from this work.
The creation of a foot patrol where officers can walk their beat in certain areas of the city. Particularly in parks, neighborhoods, and the downtown.
The ability for the police department to investigate and solve crimes quicker. Increase staffing levels allows officers more time to follow up on criminal investigations.
5. What level fee is being recommended at this time?
The Public Safety fee currently being discussed by the City is $6.00 per month.
• $6.00 per month = $72 annually.
• Discounted rates are available for qualifying low-income families and/or senior citizen hardship applicants.
6. How much revenue will the fee generate?
A $6 fee is estimated to generate approximately $864,000 per year and may ONLY be used to pay for police related services.
7. Aren’t there Federal Grants available to hire police officers?
No, there are no federal grants that can be used to hire permanent positions. We do use federal and state grants to purchase equipment and to pay for overtime for specific enforcement missions such as DUII patrols.
8. Will the fee go up in the future?
There is no automatic increase to the fee. In order to change the amount, the City Council would need to hold a public hearing and take an action authorizing the change.
9. Is it true that this fee is on my water utility bill?
No, this fee is not part of your water bill. It is not associated with your water use or your water bill. Redmond residents receive a monthly utility bill from the City for services which include garbage, water, sewer, and stormwater. The public safety fee would be a line item on that bill. Sending out a single consolidated monthly bill, saves the City and our customers administrative costs that would be incurred if we processed, printed, and mailed each charge through a separate bill.
10. Do you offer any low income or senior discounts?
• A Senior Citizen Hardship Assistance program is available to senior citizens who apply and can demonstrate one or more of the following criteria:
1. Unusually high medical expenses
2. Housing costs, which are greater than 30% of your income
3. Child care expense to permit employment
4. Disaster or casualty losses
• Low‐income Assistance: Responsible party shows proof that household income is equal to or less than 30% of Area median income, based upon family size, as published annually by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
• You must apply. Applications are available on the City of Redmond website at www.ci.redmond.or.us. Applications can also be picked up at City Hall or mailed to you upon request.
• Consistent with the City’s practice with monthly Sewer and Stormwater fees, Multi-family units will receive a 22% discount on the Public Safety Fee, which would lower the monthly fee to $4.68 (assuming the fee is $6).
11. What will happen if I don’t pay these fees?
• A $5.00 delinquency fee and 1.5% of the balance administrative fee will be placed on your City Services account if the fees are not paid by the end of the due date month.
12. Do I Get to Vote on This?
City Council has the authority to impose fees without requiring a vote of the people. They have not decided whether or not to put the Public Safety Fee on the ballot. If it was placed on the ballot, the question put before voters could either be to support a monthly fee or to increase property taxes through a levy.
The primary arguments against raising the money through a levy are:
Compression: Redmond is experiencing compression with property taxes and a levy would negatively impact other agencies such as the Redmond Fire Department, the County Sheriff’s Office and Redmond Parks & Recreation.
Inefficient: A levy would require the City to hold a additional reserves to pay officers from July through November, until property tax revenue is received
Unstable: A levy is less stable funding source not conducive to building long-term personnel. For example, property tax revenue declined by 12% during the last recession while the cost to maintain service continued to increase.
13. Why now/why didn’t you fix this problem sooner?
The City has been working to right-size the staffing level in our Police Department. Since 2013, we have added eight officers. However, our population and growth continues to outpace the City’s ability to keep up with services, particularly public safety. Our current population is around 28,500 and our sworn officer count is 38, 8 officers less than the recommended number for a city of our size.
One financial challenge we are faced with is a $450,000 annual loss of revenue due to property taxes NOT growing by 3% during the recession. In 1997, Oregon voters approved Measure 50 which separated the assessed value (used to calculate property taxes) from the real market value of the property. Measure 50 limited the annual growth in maximum assessed value on existing property by 3%. Further, Measure 50 established that the assessed value is the lesser of the real market value or maximum assessed value. During the last recession, over 80% of the properties in Redmond had a real market value less than the maximum assessed value, leading to 3 consecutive years of decline to property taxes (12% decline of property taxes overall). Under that circumstance, the maximum assessed value remained the same (rather than growing at 3%). When the real market value recovered and once again exceeded the maximum assessed value, properties’ maximum assessed value became the assessed value. All told, the annual impact of properties’ maximum assessed value not growing by 3% annually during the recession impacted the City’s General Fund by about $450,000 a year in perpetuity, leaving less funds to meet service needs after the recession. The chart below depicts a typical house in Redmond and the impact of Measure 50 combined with severe economic fluctuations. The house depicted below is now paying $86 less a year in City of Redmond property taxes than had the maximum assessed value continued to grow at 3% during the recession
14. We are not alone in our financial challenges – many cities in Oregon have approved fees to help support General Fund Services
13 cities have approved public safety fees to support Police and/or Fires Services
48 cities in Oregon have one or more supplemental fee (Public Safety Fee, Transportation Utility Fee, Local Gas Tax, Parks Maintenance Fee) to support General Fund services (Police, Fire, Parks and/or Transportation).
65% of cities with a population greater 25,000 have one or more supplemental fee to support General Fund Services.
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