(Update: Adding comments from luncheon audience, city manager)
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- One day after Bend city councilors unanimously agreed to ask voters in May for $190 million in transportation bonds, community members were gathering Thursday to learn more about the proposal from city officials.
NewsChannel 21 spoke with attendees at the luncheon Thursday, hosted by the League of Women Voters. Speakers included Mayor Sally Russell and City Manager Eric King.
"In Sisters, we have a gas tax, and it's been really helpful in getting projects done, but I understand that the amount thats needed for Bend is significant," said Andrea Blum, a LWV member from Sisters.
"I came to this meeting because I have not yet decided to vote on the bond and I was convinced that I probably will vote," said Annis Henson of Bend.
At Wednesday night's city council meeting, several speakers expressed support for the bond measure, which is estimated would cost the average Bend homeowner $170 a year for a lengthy list of projects.
The bonds would be repaid by an annual assessment on real property. It's estimated to cost property owners an average of 47 cents per $1,000 of assessed value each year of the repayment period.
The city says the financial impact of the bond during the initial years would be minimal, amounting to at least $30 a year, but average $170 a year over the period bonds are issued.
"We wouldn't issue all this debt at once," King said Thursday. "We would do it in four different series so these projects would be completed over a 10-year period."
Russell said, "We have made sure that when we had people, we had Central Oregon Landwatch, we had the Environmental Center, we had the Chamber, we had the Realtors all testifying in support of this. I mean, this works for a really broad group of stakeholders and residents."
Other topics community members brought up for the city to consider with the transportation bond funds included adding more street lights to dark neighborhoods for safer driving and walking conditions and adding flashing lights to crosswalks where the speed limit is 45 miles an hour.
Moey Newbold, with Central Oregon LandWatch, said Wednesday night the bond package would serve all transportation modes and all types of users.
Scott Wallace, representing the Bend Chamber of Commerce, agreed, saying the bond package would also address the needs of businesses in the area and enable easier connection between east and west.
The bonds, comprised of up to $190 million, are expected to go toward improved traffic flow, east-west connections and neighborhood safety improvement projects across the city.
The bond projects include:
- improvements to roads, intersections, and key east-west corridors,
- neighborhood safety improvement projects,
- a connected cross-town bicycle network,
- sidewalks and safe crossings for access to schools, parks and jobs,
- sidewalk infill on key routes,
- contributions to improvements on US 97/the Parkway, including redesign and construction of interchanges and on/off ramps, and
- transit infrastructure improvements and matching funds for transit system capital improvements.
Learn more and find an interactive map of the projects at this city web page.