A Landscape and Lighting Maintenance District (LLMD) agenda item on fee increases that prompted lengthy discussion at the previous meeting, and eventually delayed the vote until questions could be answered, was approved at a relatively brief Monday, July 21 Oakdale City Council meeting.
At the July 7 meeting several residents from the Vineyard, Bridle Ridge, and Burchell Hill neighborhoods voiced disapproval and challenged the method by which fees for their districts were calculated.
LLMDs are established to provide for maintenance of streetlights, safety lighting, and roadway and park landscaping throughout various portions of the city. Residents in those districts pay property tax assessments to finance those services.
At Monday’s meeting City Manager Bryan Whitemyer advised the council “significant outreach” was done to residents prior to the proposal for the increase with various notices and community meetings.
Whitemyer provided figures that showed the meetings which were designed to provide information and answer questions about the increases and services were poorly attended. He added that he also had three one-on-one meetings to provide information.
“Each year we have to look at needs of the districts,” Whitemyer said. “Is there enough revenue for the costs they’ll incur?”
The fee increases, which result in parcel yearly increases of $12.60 for Burchell Hill, $13.06 for Bridle Ridge, and $16.36 for the Vineyard, were necessary for increased electrical and irrigation costs and some tree replacements.
As part of public comment, Bridle Ridge resident Kent Higgins read a letter into the record on behalf of Charles Shetron, who was unable to attend, but had been very outspoken and raised numerous questions at the previous meeting.
One of Shetron’s contentions was that operating costs and reserve expenditures were comingled. Shetron also recommended that the city consider having a private management company administer the LLMDs as a cost-saving option and freeing up city staff time.
During the council’s discussion, Councilman Farrell Jackson, who had made the motion to delay the vote at the last meeting, said he was satisfied that questions had been answered or clarified.
The matter passed 4-0 with Councilman Don Petersen absent from the meeting.