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Bend voters considering two large bond measures amid pandemic

(Update: Adding video, comment from supporters, opponent)

Transportation projects, countywide library system each seek $190 million

BEND, Ore (KTVZ) -- Katy Brooks does not like to hear the gates come down at the railroad crossing on Reed Market Road in Southeast Bend.

"Now it's become a symbol of gumming up the works,” the CEO of the Bend Chamber of Commerce said Wednesday.

She added that the crossing on Reed Market is the source of a lot of congestion and frustration when trying to get from one side of town to the other.

"It really personifies how disconnected we are, east to west,” she said.

But if voters agree with Brooks, it won't be that way for much longer.

"This bond measure is going to fix this by building an overpass,” Brooks said of Ballot Measure 9-135.

The city of Bend's transportation bond is $190 million, and the most expensive bond in the city's history. It would pay for an overpass at the tracks on Reed Market.

Brooks is co-chair of the Go Bend Coalition, advocating for the measure.

While the transportation bond may have the most obvious impact to Bend residents, it's not the only big measure on the ballot. Measure 9-139 would issue $195 million of additional funds to the Deschutes Public Library system.

Todd Dunkelberg, director of the Deschutes Public Library system, said, "Like most other agencies in Deschutes County, we're experiencing incredible growth."

The bond would give the library funds to bund a new Central Library in northern Bend, and make repairs and improvements to existing facilities.

Should both bonds pass, that means Bend property owners would see a tax hike. Homes with an assessed value of $150,000 will see an increase of $121.50. Owners of a $250,000 assessed home would pay $202.50 and a $350,000 home assessment would mean $283.50 in additional taxes per year.

Bend City Councilor Justin Livingston said that's not optimal, given the pandemic and resulting recession.

"I actually support the need for a bond and the tools for a bond,” Livingston said. “I just thought the timing was really wrong." (The city council had planned to put the measure on the May ballot but withdrew it after COVID-19 hit.)

But supporters of the transportation bond say, this is actually good timing.

Mike Riley, Go Bend coalition co-chair and Environmental Center executive director, "It will be two years before anyone sees a tax increase for this transportation bond measure.”

Brooks said, "So really this is built for the recession and the pandemic."

That's why Brooks said the time to say yes is now.

"The projects included on this list, of which there are a couple of dozen, are going to improve all of our lives," she said.

At rally to support the measure on Wednesday evening, former Bend Fire Battalion Chief Dave Howe mentioned he supports the measure because every minute a fire crew is delayed to a call gives a potential house fire time to double in size.

A spokesperson for St. Charles Health System also announced the hospital system’s endorsement of the bond measure.

Bend / Deschutes County / Government-politics / News / Top Stories
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Jack Hirsh

Jack Hirsh is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Jack here.



      1. No thanks! the article clearly states the challenge! Feed myself for only 11 months or vote for this nonsense!
        Should both bonds pass, that means Bend property owners would see a tax hike. Homes with an assessed value of $150,000 will see an increase of $121.50. Owners of a $250,000 assessed home would pay $202.50 and a $350,000 home assessment would mean $283.50 in additional taxes per year.

      1. Yep, the library bond should have been tabled and deserves a “no”.

        Even in normal times…when you can actually go to a library…why over-spend on a big, new building that likely will not be full of books?

  1. Vote no on both. New library would be in a horrible location across from the mall on NW edge of town. Road bond does not add any lanes, removes lanes from Revere, and wastes more money on bike lanes and an absurd bike overcrossing of the Parkway and the railroad at Hawthorne. About the only good thing is a an overcrossing of Reed Market and the railroad.

  2. As of 2016 – almost 20,000 people visited Bend every day of the year on average. Bend’s resident population is only about 87,000 people. Both of these numbers have increased. Why don’t we use the tourist dollars for projects rather than keep feeding the Visit Bend organization that is only making the problem worse every single year. We Do Not Need the Visit Bend entity any more. It should have been dissolved years back. They even say that there is no such thing as too many tourists for Bend, I disagree.

  3. Geez, seems like a perfect time to ask for hundreds of millions in taxes…our governor shut down our economy, people lost jobs, go look at a local restaurant, they have a percentage of people in there compared to pre covid. Both ideas are terrible for us to vote on right now. Vote NO!!!

  4. Somewhere in Bend a person just bought a 1300 sq ft house with no yard for $430,000 and can barely scrape by to make payments, these tax increases will push poeple over the edge of being able to make payments.

    1. “The owner of a home with a real market value of $415,000 and assessed value of $220,000 (Bend’s citywide average) is estimated to pay an average of $170 per year over the repayment period”

      “Bonds will be structured so that property taxes would not be increased before 2022. The annual estimated cost for the average homeowner is $30 in 2022 and $119 in 2024. Additionally, based on the local economic conditions, the Oversight Committee can recommend that the City slow down spending to limit the impact on property taxes, which could delay beginning work.”

      If $119/year ($12/month) in 2024 is going to push you over the edge, then you bought too much house…

      1. “bought too much house”… No I said a 1300 sq ft house overpriced for $430,000 with no yard. Yes everyone buying today is buying “too much house”. Just add in some more taxes, it’s only $119/year. What’s the big deal? Oh yeah we pay more for gas than most states. Oh yeah Kate Brown has added how many taxes this last year for us? Paddle board tax???? Permit to go hiking? You clearly aren’t from here. You have no concept. You will learn when this bubble we call Bend pops again…and again….and again.

  5. It is an Oregon law that our Legislature passed many years ago (2005) requiring that 70 percent of any new local lodging taxes be spent on tourism marketing. This was in a much different age and it needs to be heavily examined and rolled back to a much lower percentage. Our city just flat out does not need any more tourist enticement programs. The law should be changed to update our needs and funds shifted towards infrastructure, road repairs and maybe a graffiti clean up effort from the tourists that already come to visit.

    1. I support this.

      Especially when you consider the piss poor management at VB. I know of at least one case where they stopped utilizing a local vendor in favor of an out-of-town vendor (using local tourist dollars). Wow.

  6. The greedy pigs who have profited from growth would now like you to pick up the tab. So they can profit more from more growth. They think you’re stupid. I guess we’ll see.
    Their funding of the politicians has gotten this on the ballot. They’ve already gotten their moneys’ worth in the reduction of road impact fees. So they could provide affordable housing. How did that work out? The market is now flooded with affordable housing. Not.
    BTW, please conserve water so more can move here. If you have a lawn, you might want to plan on removing it now. While they’re asking nicely.

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