Vienna City Council discusses police fee

Photo by Madeline Murphy Vienna Mayor Randy Rapp, at left, discusses the Police Fee as Recorder Cathy Smith, Councilman Roger Bibbee and Councilman Mike Elam listen.

VIENNA — Vienna City Council began its Thursday night meeting with a discussion on repealing or keeping the Vienna Police Fee.

The Vienna Police Fee was instituted in 1974. In a previous meeting, city attorney Russell Skogstad told the city officials that the senior citizens reduced rate for the Police Fee may have been done improperly.

Greg Frazier of Vienna shared why he believes the Police Fee should be repealed. “By the time the 2019-2020 budget goes into effect the city will have additional revenue from the 1 percent sales taxes from the new stores like H and M and Starbucks,” said Frazier.

“The problem with that is at this moment Home Rule (the 1 percent sales tax) is still a pilot that rests June of 2019,” said Vienna Mayor Randy Rapp.

According to Rapp, the projected sales tax for this year is $3.15 million. Home Rule has been before the Legislature the past two years to get it made into a permanent program. It passed the first year but the governor vetoed it, and last year it never made it out of committee.

“If that money stops on July first next year, that will be one third the budget gone,” said Rapp.

“It costs $2.1 million to run the Vienna Police Department and $200,000 out of it is a tenth (of police department’s budget funds),” said Rapp.

“Chief (Mike) Pifer puts together a budget just like every other department does; when that budget is submitted and approved, it will be funded out of the general fund just like every other department will, with or without that Police Fee,” said Councilman Roger Conley.

The city council debated the fee further during Thursday’s meeting showing different options for raising it, reducing it or eliminating it.

“We are going to have to fix the Police Fee; it either has to go away or you take that discount out for seniors,” said Rapp.

The Police Fee will be placed on an agenda for a later date and the decision for how to handle it will be voted on then, Rapp said.

Another topic covered at Thursday’s meeting was the first reading that was approved for the 2018 replacement pages to the codified ordinances. The ordinances for crashes involving death or personal injuries, maximum speed limits, tobacco usage restrictions and possession of deadly weapon by minors prohibited were amended while ordinances for safety glass in motor vehicles and unattended motor vehicles were repealed. The second and final reading will be on the next agenda.

Rapp led a brief discussion on the city’s future five-year plan, which will include water and sewer upgrades, paving projects, bridge repairs and a cleaning along with maintenance on wells nine and ten.

The meeting concluded with an announcement from Rapp for the back to school police bash that will be held on Saturday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Spencer Park.


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