Skip to Content

Bend City Council tackles budget, affordable housing


The Bend City Council’s laying out its budget for the next two years for the goals it would like to achieve.

The city council has identified many goals in broad areas such as economic vitality, transportation, public safety and city operations.

That covers several issues the council hopes to tackle, such as affordable housing, transportation, street improvements, diversity and metal health assistance.

The council already has taken steps, such as adding two new police and six firefighter-paramedics, but wants to put more funding toward street operations and road projects, add police to support a mental health and homeless initiative and make more affordable housing funds available.

Where would the funds come from? Staff said they could raise franchise fees, business registration feeds and the transportation system development charge to get there — and for the big-ticket road projects, a general obligation bond to go to voters is being discussed.

It was a work sesssion, so new votes were taken or firm decisions made. Learn more about the presentation they got Wednesday night here:

Several councilors broadly support the more aggressive options presented Wednesday night, which would invest around $5 million a year more in accomplishing those goals.

Mayor Sally Russell said she’s excited to have a council that’s motivated to work hard and create change.

“All of my colleagues are smart, they’re engaged, they know the issues,” Russell said. “They’re really taking time to think through, and study and integrate all the input and information they have, and we’re making what I hope what the community will see is really responsive and financially responsible decisions.”

Nothing is set yet as the council is still getting more details on the budgeting of the goals from city staff.

Councilors also are working to help develop affordable housing in the city.

On Wednesday night, the council gave the go ahead to city staff to allow them to fund projects that fall within affordable housing.

Lynne McConnell, the city’s affordable housing manager said the projects include adding 56 new affordable housing units, updating 48 existing units, as well as funding to help complete the Phase 2 expansion of the Bethlehem Inn homeless shelter.

McConnell said that this is vital to help create a sustainable community.

“Housing that’s affordable is a huge issue right now. One of the most powerful tools that we have to combat that is this affordable housing fund,” McConnell said. “We’re able to construct quite a few units and preserve quite a few units with this funding mechanism. And it’s the most flexible funding source that exists in this area for affordable housing developments.”

The funding for Bend affordable housing comes from a percentage of permit fees paid to the city.

The total budget for this year for affordable housing projects is just under $1 million.

McConnell says this approval by the council will allow her team the freedom to work toward the city’s affordable housing goals.

Councilors, staff talk snow removal

At the close of a meeting that featured the latest in a seemingly endless wrestling with the future of Mirror Pond — and now, a reticence by a new council majority to spend millions on dredging without far more public input — Bend city councilors ended the night Wednesday by talking about what everyone else has been talking about for over a week: the weather, or more specifically, the snow removal work.

City Manager Eric King and Streets and Operations Director David Abbas gave an early review of where things stand, cost and otherwise, from the battle with record February snowfall last week that still is piled up just about everywhere.

Abbas said the calling in of contractors cost the city about $318,000, but they aren’t in the hole due to savings from a milder early winter and last winter as well.

City Manager Eric KIng said they’ll be back with firmer numbers and a more complete report in two weeks.

“We are always learning and looking to make improvements” in how the snowstorms are tackled, King said, so they will return with information on where changes from the bad winter of 2017 helped “and where we can make some improvements.”

Asked by Councilor Bill Moseley why the city didn’t declare a snow emergency – meaning on some tight, key streets, vehicles must be moved or they could be towed to make way for snowplows — Abbas said they talked about it during last week’s big snowfall, but they instead looked over the nine roads affected and “hit them aggressively,” as well as downtown.

“In the one two years ago, we called out contractors five times,” he said. “It was kind of a judgment call.”

Russell asked if snow removal was still under way, and Abbas said it is, but now with sun welcomed by so many on Wednesday, it also becomes “slush management” with the inevitable free-thaw cycle.

The mayor said, “I heard there were a lot of good Samaritans” helping and checkng on neighbors. King said the city’s volunteer coordinator was taking calls and helping make sure people were not trapped in their homes.

Moseley pointed to the one-lane challenges that linger on some downtown streets and later pointed to the “pretty good” condition of main streets and still “ice berms” and plenty of snow in the neighborhoods, after private contractors’ work was halted.

“The’s part of the judgment call I made,” Abbas said, having staff plows focus on the top two priorities of streets, far fewer miles than the contractors tackle.

Article Topic Follows: News

Jump to comments ↓

KTVZ News Team


KTVZ NewsChannel 21 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content