MONMOUTH -- Taxation without representation? Or the last lifeboat?
Monmouth residents have beeing paying an additional $9.95 on their monthly utility bills since June to keep basic city services intact.
Now they are voting on whether or not to extend the fee for another two years.
The city council imposed the fee without taking the issue before voters. That inflamed a number of residents, including downtown business owner Steve Milligan, who is now running for council.
Milligan said the action amounted to taxation without representation.
Councilors said they faced an emergency. They needed to shore up city services -- immediately -- so voters would have services left to consider in November.
"The idea here is to replace the $335,350 that was cut from the budget this year, to ensure that over the next three years, the services that are currently in place will be maintained," City Manager Jeff Hecksell said.
Lacking the extra revenue from the fee, the city's budget shrunk.
Under the previous budget, Parks and Recreation Director Jim Protiva's position would have been laid off.
The police department would have cut one patrol officer and one sergeant. School Resource Officer Kraig Davis would have been re-assigned to regular police duties.
The library's hours were to be reduced. A records employee would have gone to part-time and a part-time employee in charge of special projects would be laid off.
"As a result of enacting the fee, the city can restore those things in the adopted budget that were set for elimination," Hecksell said.
"The library hours, parks and recreation, school safety officer, the patrol position -- all those things have the potential to be restored."
The fee is capped at $9.95 for the next year, and for the following two if voters approve the fee's extension in November.
If the fee is extended, after the 2004-04 fiscal year, the council will decide if the city still needs it.