(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.
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.