A saga to stabilize streets

It’s time for Bend Chamber members to show up and speak out at a public hearing.

Bend City Council believes a fuel tax is a funding source our community can count on for street maintenance. But what form that fuel tax will take on the ballot is still up for debate.

“If we put money in now, we’re reducing the cost for the future,” said Bend City Councilor Sally Russell on Monday during a special city council meeting.

The goal, she said, is to make decisions today that will result in our community paying less for roads in the future.

On Nov. 30, councilors hope to get feedback during a public hearing, scheduled to take place at 6 p.m. at the City Council Chambers in Bend City Hall.

Because there is no dedicated source of funding for streets, the cost to repair streets is not keeping up with the existing revenue streams. There is currently a funding gap for street maintenance of about $2.7 million a year to raise the street quality, in addition to an $80 million backlog.

During the meeting, councilors deliberated about different funding tools to address the funding gap including: a marijuana tax, a water/sewer franchise fee increase, a transportation utility fee and a fuel tax.

Bend City Councilor Victor Chudowsky said he was still interested in generating a revenue stream from TRT, also known as lodging tax, collections.

“Out of all our revenue streams, TRT is the one that’s booming,” Chudowsky said.

While TRT revenue is growing, Bend City Councilor Nathan Boddie said so are the city’s expenses due to growth.

Councilors agreed a fuel tax was the most transparent, had the best nexus with street funding and was a way to ensure tourists would foot some of the bill.

Mayor Jim Clinton encouraged the council not to make any decisions on specifics related to the ballot measure verbiage until after the public hearing occurred.

“We should not pin down some of these provisions tonight, nor the exact number of cents we might want to put on the ballot until we have a public hearing so people will have the chance to weigh in before we actually decide.”

 

 

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