Gresham mayor proposes added utility fee

Gresham mayor proposes added utility fee

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by Mike Benner

Bio | Email | Follow: @MikeBennerKGW

kgw.com

Posted on September 20, 2012 at 7:34 AM

Updated Thursday, Sep 20 at 4:20 PM

Poll:
Do you agree with an added $7.50 utility fee, to cover increased costs of police, fire, and parks?

GRESHAM -- Gresham's mayor is pushing to add a monthly fee to utility bills and some residents have already spoken out against the idea.

Little Aspen is the pride and joy of her mother which is one reason why the two live in Gresham.

"Just moved back a few years ago cause I wanted my daughter to be here," said Kristi Culver.

But Culver is second guessing that decision after hearing news about the proposed new utility fee.

"It's already hard enough to make ends meet as a single mom," said Culver.  "It's hard to pay extra for everything."

Here is how the proposal breaks down: 40,000 residential and industrial utility customers would see a $7.50 fee added to their monthly bills.  That would generate $3.6 million in revenue annually.  That revenue would be dispersed between police, fire, and parks.

"It's not something I take lightly," said Mayor Shane Bemis.  "It's hard."

But to keep the city afloat it is necessary, according to the mayor.  Bemis pitched his plan at a town hall meeting Wednesday night.  Opponents fired back saying this will hurt those on fixed incomes, but others supported the mayor.

"He researches everything and he wouldn't suggest it if he didn't think it was a needed item," said Joyce Shea.

Needed or not a higher utility bill will hurt a lot of people.  Perhaps nobody knows that better than Kristi Culver.

"I'm a full time student," said Culver.  "I'm not working."

Several additional town halls will be held before the city council votes on the issue.

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