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Ashland City Council raises some city fees Tuesday

Proposed fee hikes to community development were scrapped to shield affordable housing efforts

You might have to pay more if you need an ambulance ride or have to be rescued by Ashland Fire and Rescue, after Ashland City Council raised a number of fees for municipal services Tuesday.

But fee hikes on community development- and public works-related services were scrapped out of concerns they could hurt affordable housing efforts.

City Manager Joe Lessard said the many miscellaneous fees charged for city services — from tree removal to ambulance services — are weighed against the consumer price index every year to see whether the city needs to raise them to keep up with inflation. This year, inflation drove the CPI up 8.5%.

Ashland City Council voted Tuesday on a whole raft of fees for all manner of city services, from permit to construction services.

Mayor Julie Akins expressed concern about fee hikes for planning and community development because the fees would hit construction companies and developers, which could hurt the city’s focus on creating more affordable housing and encouraging the growth of local business.

Akins asked Public Works Director Scott Fleury and Community Development Director Bill Molnar whether their departments would be drastically impacted if the city did not raise rates, and both directors said their departments would be all right without them.

“We are in extraordinary times right now with what’s happening with our inflation rate,” said Councilor Tonya Graham, who introduced a motion to update all city fees except for those related to public works, planning and community development.

Councilor Gina DuQuenne was the only councilor to vote against the motion. Councilor Shaun Moran was not present.

Among the fees that increased were those charged by Ashland Fire and Rescue for 24 services, from haz-mat to ambulance response. The city will now charge $450 per engine, instead of $400, for victim rescues, and ambulance waiting time will go up from $25 to $50 per hour.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Morgan Rothborne at mrothborne@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4487. Follow her on Twitter @MRothborne.