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Tigard ponders 3-cent gas tax

The City Council also imposes a truancy law to give police more clout to pick up juvenile offenders

TIGARD - At some point in the future, drivers in Tigard who want to gas up at local service stations may be paying an extra 3-cents-per-gallon tax to fund major street projects.

The City Council at its Aug. 8 meeting gave the green light to a recommendation from the Transportation Financing Strategies Task Force to delve further into the issue.

The task force recommended improvements to the Pacific Highway/Greenburg Road/Main Street intersection for the initial project.

The proposal includes a five-year sunset clause with an option to renew the tax, according to City Engineer Gus Duenas.

With approval from the council to proceed, the next steps are to develop a draft ordinance and to contact owners of service stations that would be affected by the tax.

The tax is expected to raise $900,000 to $1 million annually, and the cost to improve the Pacific Highway intersection is estimated to be about $3.5 million, Duenas said.

According to Gretchen Buehner, chairwoman of the task force, there are 14 gasoline stations in Tigard which recently had a 32-cent difference per gallon in the prices they were charging,

Duenas said that about 30 million gallons of gasoline are sold annually in the city.

'This is a pretty aggressive time frame, and we plan to present this to the gas stations in early October or later,' Buehner said.

Council President Nick Wilson agreed with the concept of the gas tax.

'I enthusiastically support this,' he said. 'I wonder if 3 cents is enough?'

Mayor Craig Dirksen added that the projects funded by the gas tax would not only benefit residents but also those who drive through the city.

'I'm in favor of the process,' he said. 'I may not be in favor of the (actual tax). I suggest we hold at least two public hearings - one on the draft ordinance and one on the final ordinance - to know we truly have buy-in from the citizens.'

Truancy

The council also voted to amend the Municipal Code to include truancy.

Police Chief Bill Dickinson noted that city should encourage children between the ages of 7 and 18 to be in school and that state law requires attendance.

Furthermore, the King City City Council recently approved a truancy ordinance, and the Tigard-Tualatin School District has adopted the language as a districtwide policy.

With no truancy law on the books in Tigard, 'when an officer contacts a minor who should be in school, there is no authority for the officer to return the minor to school or to place the minor in the custody of his/her parents or guardian,' Dickinson said.

The new law will become effective just about the time the new school year starts next month.

Bull Mountain annexation

In addition, the City Council agreed to annex another Bull Mountain parcel into the city limits.

Alberta Rider, who owns 1.26 acres on Bull Mountain Road and sold the remainder of her property to the school district for the elementary school named after her, lives in a log cabin on a life estate on the property.

She chose not be annexed when the city annexed the school site but has since requested that her property be hooked up to city sewer services and be annexed into the city.

'Because of the failing on-site gray-water disposal system, the proposed territory has been connected to the city sewer system,' said Emily Eng, an assistant planner. 'However, the connection is contingent upon annexation.'

Commercial Street improvements

Finally, changing hats, council members acting as the Local Contract Review Board awarded a contract to OTAK Inc. for phase-two design services for the Commercial Street streetscape, which is part of the Tigard Downtown Comprehensive Streetscape Project.

Commercial Street is defined as a catalyst project to kickstart the implementation of the Tigard Downtown Improvement Plan and 'upon completion will provide pedestrian access to the downtown area and the commuter rail station from the residential area west of the Highway 99W overpass,' said Duenas.

'In addition, through implementation of streetscape design elements and gateway treatment, it will become one of the enhanced gateways into the Tigard downtown area,' he added.

The contract is for $89,919, with anther $8,992 reserved for contingencies.

The project is included in the current fiscal year budget, with $400,000 available for the street project and $75,000 for the gateway treatment.

Tualatin River trail

The board also approved a contract to RC Landworks to construct the Tualatin River trail, an 8-foot-wide concrete multi-use trail from an existing concrete path in Cook Park to the Portland and Western Railroad bridge.

Pedestrians and bicyclists can use the trail to access the future Tualatin River bridge now under construction that will connect Cook Park with Tualatin Community Park and Durham City Park.

The amount of the contract is $99,541, with aontingency fund of $9,9541.