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Lake Oswegos privilege fee is anything but what name suggests

Shame on our Sally.

Have you taxpaying residents read the explanation of a new charge for one of many utility carriers, PGE?

We have the opportunity to pay a percentage of our monthly bill to PGE and they will pay that money to Lake Oswego City Hall. Of course PGE and the other utilities will charge a handling fee. Four of our councilors and mayor have called the fee a privilege fee. This shows me how they view our awareness of their actions, not transparent.

Our freshman councilor Sally Moncrieff devised this extravagant privilege fee to pay for the $2 million the city gave to the Lake Oswego School District early this year. We all want healthy schools. It would be an even better gift if we didn't have to keep giving and giving when there are less expensive ways.

Our girl from the Palisades neighborhood had an alternative plan which unfortunately for us was the most expensive plan of many presented.

My fellow Lake Oswego taxpayers, we all will pay an additional tax for our utilities.

The list is: 1) electricity, 2) water and sewer, 3) trash collection 4) TV and Internet companies.

I am sure you have noted the drastic rise in all of our utilities. Note well these taxes will continue after the 'year of privilege taxes' has ended. Their foot is in the door.

According to Ms. Moncrieff, these 'privilege taxes' should be collected for three years. Common sense prevailed and the other councilors persuaded her to one year.

Sally Moncrieff's voting record shows she has voted for all extra taxes and increases with positive enthusiasm. She is one of (a) few that want to bring a streetcar to Lake Oswego without a vote from her constituents.

I voted for her since she and I are in the Palisades neighborhood. My thought was she would represent my neighbors and family. Regretfully this has not been the case.

Shame on you Sally!

My neighbors and I will make an effort to alert the rest of Lake Oswego to shorten your duties at city hall even before the elections in 2012.

J.Betts is a resident of Lake Oswego.

Editor's note: Lake Oswego City Councilor Sally Moncrieff responds:

'In February 2011 I voted to increase existing franchise fees on 3 utilities - PGE, NW Natural and Allied Waste. This increase will amount to approximately $4 - $5 dollars per month for the average residence. This fee increase combined with city reductions and savings provide $2 million to our schools.

'The franchise fee or 'privilege tax' is an existing fee that is regulated by state law. In Oregon, there are currently over 70 cities charging at least 5 percent franchise fees on their electric utility, including Portland and West Linn. The same is true for natural gas with the majority of cities charging 5 percent, including Portland, Tigard, Oregon City and Milwaukie

'With the temporary fee increase, Lake Oswego's franchise fees will be brought into line with Portland, West Linn, Tigard, Oregon City and Milwaukie. Lake Oswego has been charging less than our neighboring cities and that lower rate will automatically be reinstated at the end of 12 months. For more information, please visit: http://www.ci.oswego.or.us/ .

'I did initially propose supporting our schools for more than 1 year, and increasing franchise fees for 3 years. In the end I supported the one year, one-time assistance compromised of a combination of cost savings and fee increases because this provided the best balance between maintaining necessary city services, assisting our schools and having the least financial impact on citizens.

'I voted yes, along with an unanimous council, to hold an election on the streetcar, most likely in May of 2012 - sooner if information on cost and alignment are available. We are currently refining information on the proposed streetcar's alignment, site of the terminus and park and ride, project cost, cost to Lake Oswego and potential funding sources. Once these aspects of the project are determined an advisory vote of city residents will be taken on the direction the community would like to see relative to transit investments impacting Lake Oswego.

'As the chair of the Palisades Neighborhood Association, my decisions were based on what was in the best interest of that neighborhood. As your city councilor, I must consider the needs of the entire community as a whole and I must consider how my decisions will affect future citizens. I will continue to strive to move Lake Oswego forward in a way that best serves our whole community now and into the future.'