Chapter 3.45


3.45.010    Creation and purpose.

3.45.020    Definitions.

3.45.030    Administrative officers designated.

3.45.040    Public safety fees allocated to the law enforcement fund.

3.45.050    Determination of public safety fee.

3.45.060    Determination of amount, billing and collection of fee.

3.45.070    Exemption.

3.45.080    Reduction of fees for low income households.

3.45.090    Appeals.

3.45.100    Penalty.

3.45.010 Creation and purpose.

(1) The principal purpose of the public safety fee adopted under this chapter is to safeguard, facilitate and encourage the health, safety and welfare of the residents and businesses of the city. The city council finds that a continuous and consistent public safety program provides a multitude of economic and social benefits to the public, including but not limited to:

(a) Increased police protection.

(b) Prevention of crime.

(c) Enhanced protection of property.

(d) Promotion of business and industry.

(e) Promotion of community spirit and growth.

(2) It is the intent of this chapter to provide a funding mechanism to help pay for the benefits conferred on city residents and businesses by the provision of an adequate level of police protection and public safety within the city.

(3) This chapter is intended to create a fee for service within the corporate limits of the city of Veneta. However, it is not intended to provide full funding for police services. In the event that the public safety fee revenues collected are insufficient to offset the costs of police services, additional funding may be allocated by the city council from other nondedicated city funds; provided, however, the city council may direct the reimbursement to such other nondedicated city funds if additional public safety fee revenues are collected. (Ord. 562 § 1, 2021)

3.45.020 Definitions.

Unless otherwise defined herein, terms used in this chapter have the meaning ascribed by VMC 3.25.005. As used in this chapter, the following terms shall mean:

“Council” means the city council for the city of Veneta.

“Developed property” means a parcel or legal portion of real property, on which an improvement exists or has been constructed. Improvement on developed property includes but is not limited to buildings, parking lots, landscaping and outside storage. A presumption shall exist that a property is a developed property under this chapter when a property receives water service, receives sewer service, is under lease, is issued a building permit, or receives an occupancy permit. Thereafter, to avoid the public service fee, the responsible person for the property shall have the burden to show that the property is not a developed property.

“Law enforcement” means any action or activity to provide police services or public safety programming, including code enforcement, public safety communications, and community safety programming like Neighborhood Watch, and any other related activities that foster public safety.

“Nonresidential unit” means a developed property that is primarily not for personal domestic use or accommodation, including but not limited to business or commercial enterprise. A nonresidential structure which provides accommodation for one or more businesses or tenants, including, but not limited to, permanent provisions for access to the public, shall have each distinct unit or tenancy considered as a separate nonresidential unit. A business that leases storage space does not create separate units for each storage space so long as the lease does not provide for general public access to the storage space from which the lessee runs a business.

“Residential unit” means a developed property primarily used for personal domestic use or accommodation which provides complete individual living facilities for one or more persons including but not limited to permanent provisions for living, sleeping, and sanitation. A home business within a residential unit is not a separate nonresidential unit. An accessory dwelling unit on a parcel is a separate residential unit. Each individual dwelling unit within a multifamily residential property, condominium, or mobile home park is a separate residential unit. A business that provides long-term assisted living care, including but not limited to a long-term care facility, but that does not provide full individualized living facilities for each dwelling unit is a single nonresidential unit, not separate residential units. Transient lodging is not a residential unit.

“Responsible party” means the person or persons who by occupancy or contractual arrangement are responsible to pay for utility and other services provided to a residential or nonresidential unit. Unless another party has agreed in writing to pay and a copy of the writing is filed with the city, the person(s) paying the city’s water or sewer bill for a residential or nonresidential unit shall be deemed the responsible party as to that residential or nonresidential unit. For any residential or nonresidential unit not otherwise required to pay a city utility bill, “responsible party” shall mean the person or persons legally entitled to use or occupancy of the residential or nonresidential unit.

“Transient lodging” means a hotel, motel or inn dwelling unit that is used for temporary overnight human occupancy; a space used for parking a recreational vehicle or erecting a tent during temporary periods of human occupancy; or other dwelling units, or portions of dwelling units that are used for temporary human occupancy. For the purposes of this chapter, “temporary” means less than 30 consecutive days. (Ord. 562 § 2, 2021)

3.45.030 Administrative officers designated.

(1) Except as provided in subsections (2) and (3) of this section, the city administrator shall be responsible for the administration of this chapter. The city administrator shall be responsible for developing administrative procedures for this chapter, administration of fees, and for the purposes of establishing the fee for a specific residential or nonresidential unit, and the consideration and assignment of categories of use subject to appeal in accordance with this chapter.

(2) The city administrator shall be responsible for administering law enforcement services for the city of Veneta and, subject to city budget committee review and city council approval, allocating and expending budget resources for law enforcement services in accordance with this chapter.

(3) The finance director shall be responsible for the collection and calculation of fees. (Ord. 562 § 3, 2021)

3.45.040 Public safety fees allocated to the law enforcement fund.

(1) All public safety fees received shall be deposited into the law enforcement fund or other fund dedicated to the operation and maintenance of city law enforcement services. Other revenue sources may also be used for law enforcement services. Amounts in the law enforcement fund may be invested by the finance director in accordance with state law. Earnings from such investments shall be dedicated to the law enforcement fund.

(2) The law enforcement fund shall not be used for other governmental or proprietary purposes of the city, except to pay for an equitable share of the city’s overhead costs including accounting, management and other costs related to management and operation of the law enforcement services program. (Ord. 562 § 4, 2021)

3.45.050 Determination of public safety fee.

(1) A public safety fee is hereby established for each developed property within the city, and shall further be based upon the following:

(a) The city’s law enforcement service level and city emergency reserves policy.

(b) For residential and nonresidential property, the fee shall be charged on a per residential or nonresidential unit basis.

(2) The amount of the public safety fee shall be set by council resolution.

(3) The public safety fee program shall be reviewed annually as part of the city’s budget process.

(4) Following each review of the program, the finance director shall review the revenue received from the new rates after a full year of collection to determine if the annual revenues meet the annual funding level needed for law enforcement services. The finance director shall report the findings of that review to city council and may make recommendations on any potential fee increases or decreases based on that review. Any unspent funds will be carried over to the following budget year’s beginning fund balance for the law enforcement fund. (Ord. 562 § 5, 2021)

3.45.060 Determination of amount, billing and collection of fee.

(1) Based upon the fees set by council resolution, the finance director shall charge a per unit public safety fee to the responsible party for each billing unit with an active utility account or, for residential or nonresidential units not connected to city water and/or sewer, to the responsible party for each residential or nonresidential unit of developed property. The amount payable shall be redetermined if there is a change in use or development. All redeterminations based on a change in use or development shall be prospective only.

(2) The public safety fee shall be billed to and collected from the responsible party identified in subsection (1) of this section. Public safety fees shall be included as part of the water and sewer bill for billing units with active utility accounts, and included on an “other utility” bill for residential or nonresidential units not connected to city water or sewer services. All such bills shall be rendered regularly by the finance director and shall become due and payable upon receipt.

(3) Collections from responsible parties will be applied first to interest and penalties, second to public safety fees, third to transportation utility fees, fourth to stormwater drainage fees, fifth to sanitary sewer service utilities, and last to water utilities.

(4) An account is delinquent if the public safety fee is not paid by the due date shown on the utility bill. The city may follow the procedures for collection of delinquent accounts as outlined in Chapters 3.20 and 3.25 VMC, including termination of water and sanitary sewer service.

(5) For newly developed properties, the fees imposed under this chapter shall become due and payable from and after the earlier of the date when the developed property is usable or occupiable or when city water or sanitary sewer system service is initiated. (Ord. 562 § 6, 2021)

3.45.070 Exemption.

Public safety fees imposed under this chapter shall apply to all developed property per VMC 3.45.050(1), including property which may be entitled to exemption from or deferral of ad valorem property taxation. Such property or units owned or used by local, state and federal governments are exempt from the public safety fee. (Ord. 562 § 7, 2021)

3.45.080 Reduction of fees for low income households.

Upon written application by the responsible party and approval by the finance director, residential or nonresidential units receiving or otherwise eligible for a reduction in water and sewer base fees per the city’s low-income eligibility policy shall receive a commensurate reduction in the public safety fee charged. The finance director’s decision under this section is final. (Ord. 562 § 8, 2021)

3.45.090 Appeals.

(1) The city administrator shall have the initial authority and responsibility to interpret all terms, provisions and requirements of this chapter and to determine the appropriate charges thereunder. A responsible party may request reconsideration of the finance director’s determination of the amount of the fee by submission of a written application to the city administrator. The application shall be supported with sufficient factual details to enable the city administrator to render a decision.

(2) Within 30 days of the submission of a complete application requesting reconsideration of the amount of the public safety fee to be charged to a responsible party, the city administrator shall render a decision on the application. The decision shall be written and shall include findings of fact and conclusions for the particular aspects of the decision, based upon applicable criteria. A copy of the decision shall be mailed to the person submitting the request.

(3) For the purpose of reviewing the fee, the city administrator may determine that the land use category is proper and that the fee charged is appropriate. However, if the decision of the city administrator results in a change in the category of land use, the city administrator shall, for the purpose of establishing the fee, assign a new use category, and notify the finance director so that the appropriate change may be made in the applicable fee to be charged in the future. No back charges or refunds are required.

(4) The responsible party may appeal the city administrator’s determination to the council. The notice of appeal must be filed in writing within 10 days of the date notice of change of category of land use and determination of fee is sent and must be filed with the office of the city administrator in writing, stating:

(a) The name and address of the appellant.

(b) The address of the affected premises.

(c) The nature of the determination being appealed.

(d) The reason the determination is incorrect.

(e) What the correct determination of the appeal should be.

A responsible party who fails to file such a statement within the time permitted waives his or her objections and the appeal shall be dismissed. If notice of appeal is properly filed, except in an emergency, the city shall take no enforcement action regarding the responsible party’s failure to pay the public safety fee until the council renders a final determination on the appeal.

(5) At its next available meeting, the council shall hear and determine the appeal on the basis of the written statement and such additional evidence as the council deems appropriate. The appellant shall be allowed at least 10 days’ written notice of the hearing on appeal. At the hearing the appellant may present testimony and oral argument personally or by counsel, and additional evidence. The rules of evidence as used by courts of law do not apply. Factors to be taken into consideration include, but are not limited to: availability of more accurate information; equity relative to billing classifications assigned to other developments of a similar nature; changed circumstances; and situations uniquely affecting the party filing the appeal.

(6) The decision of the council shall be in writing and shall contain findings of fact that substantiate the council’s decision. The decision shall be mailed to the appellant within 10 days of the completion of the appeal hearing. The decision of the council shall be final. If the appeal is successful, any refund of fees will be limited to any overpayment, retroactive to the filing date of the appeal. (Ord. 562 § 9, 2021)

3.45.100 Penalty.

(1) In addition to any other remedy, violation of any provision of this chapter shall, upon conviction, constitute a violation punishable by a maximum fine of $360.00. Each day of delinquency in paying the public safety fee constitutes a separate violation.

(2) In addition to other lawful enforcement procedures, using the procedures under Chapter 3.25 VMC, the city may enforce the collection of charges required by this chapter by withholding delivery of water to any premises where the public safety fee is delinquent. (Ord. 562 § 10, 2021)