CANYON CITY - Residents receiving new rural addresses will pay a fee under a county ordinance approved last month.

On Sept. 18, the Grant County Court signed an ordinance to pass on the state-mandated costs of providing new addresses to rural, out-of-city residents. The addresses aim to eliminate confusion and provide direction to emergency-responders The fee combines the cost of the address stake, attached numbers, fluorescent driveway marker card, and any additional paper, postage, office supplies or other materials, as well as a separate charge based on mileage and fuel consumption necessary to install the markers. The first fee is for fixed costs, while the second relates to distance that county planning staff must travel. Anyone needing a new rural address will be provided a map with rings showing in which cost section they fall for the travel-related fee.

None of these new costs will be assessed against residents who received their rural addresses from state contractor TK Associates. Rather, this ordinance reimburses the county for furnishing rural addresses for new homes or properties. Planning director Hilary McNary said her office expects to deal with about 20 requests a year for address stakes at new homes or developments.  The County Court explained that the county would face an impossible battle trying to recover their costs from the state and found itself forced to pass on the costs to residents. Even though voters prohibited the state from enforcing unfunded mandates on local governments, this prohibition came after the law which required rural addressing. Therefore, the rural addressing costs are grandfathered and not subject to the "no unfunded mandates" law. Also, the unfunded mandates prohibition is difficult to enforce anyway because the "financial burden of performance placed on county government" can become a matter of interpretation and dispute, Grant County Judge Dennis Reynolds noted.

"I believe that the county ordinance that has been the subject of two public hearings should proceed," Reynolds told the County Court on Sept. 11.  Following public comment, including remarks from Prairie City resident Elaine Smith, the County Court agreed to proceed. Smith asked questions about customizing address markers to particular residences. McNary said she did not oppose landowners replacing the white stakes, but she said they did so at their own risk, based on the potential need for emergency services.

In another topic of discussion, the County Court eliminated wording from the ordinance that would have charged residents for planning staff's time as well as mileage and supplies. The County Court reasoned that citizens already pay for staff time once. A salary should not be funded twice, and staff should not be compensated beyond their existing pay unless the mandate inhibits the planning department's ability to provide needed services, Reynolds said.

The ordinance was the subject of the final public hearing on Sept. 11 and signed into law on Sept. 18.

In other business:

• The County Court on Sept. 11 opened bids for janitorial services in the Grant County Courthouse in Canyon City.

Marlyn Hoffman's Yes, We Do Cleaning janitorial service submitted the low bid of $735 for semiannual carpet shampooing and $650 for semiannual window washing at the courthouse. Eastern Oregon Building Maintenance bid $800 to shampoo the carpets. The County Court voted 3-0 to award the bids to Hoffman.

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