North Bend Government and Politics STOCK

NORTH BEND — North Bend Citizens for Good Faith Government has announced it is appealing the ballot title submitted to Coos County by the city of North Bend regarding a potential ballot measure.

The North Bend citizen group submitted two potential ballot items regarding public safety fees collected through water bills. According to NBCGFG, the city added information to the proposed initiative submitted by chief petitioner John Briggs that does not fairly describe the potential ballot measure for voters.

“The original initiative that John proposed to them, the wording was slightly less biased, than the one that actually came out for public review,” Jim Rose with NBCGFG said.

Briggs’ submitted ballot title initiative says, “This Measure would amend the North Bend City Code to state that the Public Safety Fee shall not exceed fifteen dollars ($15.00) per month per occupied unit, nor be increased in any amount except upon approval by a majority of the electors of the city on a May or November regular election date.”

A “yes” vote will limit the City of North Bend’s Public Safety Fee, currently set at $30/month, to no more than $15/month, and would prevent future increases in the fee unless the increase is approved by city voters at a general election. A reduction in the fee from $30 to $15 would decrease the city’s general fund revenue by approximately $785,000/year.

“The original wording on the paperwork that was filled was titled 'Limitation of North Bend Public Safety Fee' and somehow it got morphed into 'Public Safety cuts and Public Safety Fee Reductions,'” Rose said.

The City of North Bend submitted a ballot title that said, “a “yes” vote will be loss of police services from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., detective staffing decreased 50 percent, no response to non-injury traffic crashes, animal complaints, abandoned vehicles, theft from motor vehicles, trespass with no other crime, thefts under $25, civil problems, medical calls, welfare checks of employees, internet fraud, and false alarms. The Fire Department will not respond to emergency medical calls, non-injury traffic crashes, lift assist and code enforcement issues.”

The city does have the right to reword ballot titles before submission to the county, the criteria being that the summary is concise.

Briggs and NBCGFG filed the ballot initiatives with the city, because of recent fee increases the city has added onto water bills of North Bend citizens without a vote of the people.

Rose said this is not a public safety issue, it’s about fairness.

“From our standpoint, and most people that we talk to, we feel it’s a fairness issue, because hey, they raised our taxes essentially without giving us a say in the matter,” Rose said.

The ballot title summary that was submitted by the city is now under appeal. It appears that document has been taken down from the city’s website while it’s being reviewed.

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Nicholas A. Johnson can be reached at 541-266-6049, or by email at nicholas.johnson@theworldlink.com.