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The city has decided, and the court has ruled, that it is perfectly permissible for the city to impose a fee on water bills to plug budgetary shortfalls. Specifically, North Bend currently imposes a $15 (formerly $30) fee on citizens’ water bills. Many of these citizens are retired, disabled or otherwise impoverished. Don’t have the $15 per month? They will go ahead and turn your water off. Yes, they will let you and your kids suffer dehydration and unsanitary conditions in an effort to plug their budgetary hole.

So, since it’s already been deemed to be perfectly above board, per the city charter, to impose fees on water bills, here is a fee you can get behind: put a fee on the water bill of casinos operating in the city. The Mill Casino, last I checked, uses our city’s water and sewer system.

“But, that’s not fair to the casino” you say. Give me a break. Water bill fees aren’t fair for struggling families, either, but the city council has made their peace with that. We’re supposed to feel sorry for a casino? Are you joking? And while other businesses have been forced to close during the virus response, the Mill Casino threw up the middle finger to all of us and said “sorry, we’re “sovereign, your safety, and the rest of the local businesses be damned” all while operating under a monopoly they carved out for themselves. Want to open your own casino? You can’t. Tribes are granted this exorbitant (and extremely lucrative) privilege.

So, let’s level the playing field. The city is going to take this money no matter what. Who should they take the money from? Struggling families and retirees? Or the most profitable business in the entire city (which is already granted special rights not available to you and me)? Tell the council to impose a $65,000 (that’s MUCH less than a day’s revenue for the casino) monthly “Public Safety Fee” on every casino operating within city limits. It will plug the budget gap so the citizens of North Bend can continue having 24/7 police coverage, and it costs the citizens nothing.

Hank Mardukas

Coos Bay

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