Bull Mountain bickering a three-ring circus
(Soapboxes are guest opinions from our readers, and anyone is welcome to write one. Isador Morgavi is a resident of unincorporated Bull Mountain.)
Returning from New Orleans, I find the three-ring circus in full swing.
First there's Tigard, whose appetite for annexation understandably remains unabated. They not only want the additional revenue that they would realize by adding this huge hunk of real estate to their tax rolls, they want added population to get them over the threshold to receive federal grants.
Ring number two is FoBM (Friends of Bull Mountain) and their advocates wanting to incorporate the area into a city. They want to incorporate not only the area where most of us live, they want to include the new areas know as UGB 64 and 65 - property that is mostly undeveloped and farm land totally unrelated to the demographics of unincorporated Bull Mountain.
I am very much in ring number three - those of us who are satisfied with being unincorporated, who do not want to pay any more taxes and who do not want to have another layer of government to deal with.
The ringmaster is the Washington County Board of Commissioners, who would really like to see this whole thing go away. For years they planned this area to be incorporated into Tigard and off of their problem list. But in 2004 the residents of unincorporated Bull Mountain by a vote of nine to one said they did not want to be part of Tigard, they simply wanted to be left alone.
Rings one and two recently exchanged comments over a couple of issues that are so insignificant and have been kicked around for so long that I would have thought died long ago. They are the Tigard library and Tigard parks. Tigard Mayor Craig Dirksen complained about people from unincorporated Bull Mountain using them without paying for them. These are petty and insignificant items that he has never attempted to quantify. They only add fuel to the atmosphere of acrimony that has pervaded everything in the past. We would all be well served if these two dead cats were put to rest and further dialogue limited to things that matter.
Ken Henschel (My Turn, The Oregonian, July 13, 2006) jumped all over this (much as I had done in the past) and justly so. But he (Henschel) then went on to add comments about the tax rate for the proposed new city and in doing so seems to have developed some new way of manipulating numbers. I've spent many years as an engineer and tax consultant but have never encountered the schemes used by ring two members.
His findings that his taxes will increase by a total of only a nickel reminds me of the ridiculous article by another ring 2 mathematician (Charley Radley, Soapbox, Jan. 5, 2006) determined that a new city could be incorporated at no cost. This marvelous conclusion seems to have based on a number of fantasies. Some attorney would do all the legal work needed at no cost! Then some unnamed 'local government and district' (supposedly one with a budget surplus that was searching for someone to give money to) would donate $45,000. This turned out to be the scheme where FoBM tried to get $35,000 from the local water board by saying how the money would benefit the board. This sham was seen for what it was, a scam, and no money was forthcoming. So now what, Charlie?
Henschel grouped property taxes that are intended to pay for the day-to-day operation of the city (including the library and parks) with a voter-approved bond issue to build that library and street maintenance costs to address deteriorated streets. This same issue recently was voted down in King City, where voters decided that they were satisfied with the conditions of the streets and did not want to pay any additional fee to fix them. That's the democratic way of doing things. You don't lump everything into property taxes, as there are some things that voters may or may not want.
All of which prompts me to warn you - ask for the back up and details when anyone presents a rosy financial picture.
He went on to state, 'our libraries and parks (note the plurals) would be open to everyone.' Does he believe that this small community will have multiple libraries and parks? Which brings me to a remark I think came from Lise Hamilton-Treick that there would be 62 acres of parks in the new city if incorporation happens. With property selling for a minimum of $200,000 per acre, where is that $12.4 million to come from?
Finally, Henschel and FoBM may be satisfied with a 66 percent reduction in law enforcement (as they propose in their budget estimates), but I certainly am not. The Washington County sheriff's department under Sheriff Rob Gordon has indeed done a great job in the past, but what will he be able to do with only 66 percent of the current manpower? Does someone see a drastic reduction in the meth drug problem? On the contrary, there has been increased residential break-ins and other drug related crimes. As the population increases, so will crime. Now is not the time to reduce law enforcement.