Oregon State and Corvallis city council at odds over policing

CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) — The Corvallis City Council and Oregon State University are in a dispute over the city's plan to add police officers in the campus area, a reflection of tensions over campus-area misbehavior that has accompanied enrollment growth.

The council has approved a property tax levy that calls for adding three police officers — four if Oregon State bears the $100,000 cost for another.

If the university doesn't contribute, the city would add only two officers, the Corvallis Gazette-Times reports.

City Council members say residents object to increased costs of policing near-campus areas. The school says it can't just turn over higher education money to the city.

"My constituents say 'why are we paying the bill?'" Councilman Bruce Sorte said. "I don't know how else to do this."

"This sends a message," added Councilman Mike Beilstein.

Steve Clark, the school's vice president for marketing and university relations, said the message was a disappointment and a surprise — no members had talked to university officials.

"No one has to get our attention. We are already involved with our neighbors and city partners," Clark said. "It's incumbent on the City Council and the university to sit down and talk about what the council had in mind. Without that opportunity, we're working in the dark."

He said the university's legal opinion is that it can't turn state funds intended for higher education over to another public entity.

The school is increasing staffing in its student conduct office to deal with problems that arise from off-campus behavior, he said.

Neighborhood livability has been one of the key challenges of the project called Collaboration Corvallis that has been working for more than a year on neighborhood concerns.

The levy is scheduled for a vote in November. It would raise $3.2 million for a variety of services, including restoring Sunday library service.

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Information from: Gazette-Times, http://www.gtconnect.com

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press