How much more can the city load on us?'
There are 20,582 taxpayers in Lake Oswego. Are you one? Upon those 20,582 taxpayers, the city council has been piling multi-million dollar projects, such as the West End Building ($20 million and counting), the streetcar ($450 million), the sewer interceptor ($95 million), the expanded water system (LO taxpayers, $130 million), the new library, sporting a 'boutique hotel' or apartments on its upper floors, ($62.7 million), new tennis courts ($8 million), the new city pier ($683,000), Foothills development, Luscher Farm redevelopment, new public property acquisition, new public parking, new publicly-financed retail and mixed-use housing, etc., almost all tucked into the far northeast neighborhoods of the city.
Each of these projects might be useful to a subset of our population. But taken together, they are overwhelming. They will require greatly increased income tax, property tax, license or utility fees. Moreover, each will have substantial permanent outyear costs for added city labor, pensions, operations and materials. Granted, the city will look for partners for each project, but the bill to you will be steep.
Worse, you can search the various public documents and presentations in vain for price tags. Recently, I attended a 30-minute city presentation on the new water system. The city employee offered no cost information until he was asked. I did learn, however that LO has an average usage of 5 million gallons per day (gpd) with a peak of 16 million gpd, which has been exceeded three times in the last five years. Our system will already supply 12 million consistently and 16 million gpd at peak,so why the need for a $230 million project? Could it be for the Foothills development, again?
To be viable, Foothills alone will require a streetcar; new water and sewer services; new electrical service, telephone service and Internet service; public planning and permitting services; new streets, parks and paths; over a billion dollars worth of public services. While developers will pay much, I guesstimate the taxpayers burden at upwards of $500 million! Your share of that: $25,000 per taxpayer! Could we at least vote on a general obligation bond for this?
The library district ('North End Development') will be at least $75 million, soup to nuts. And here is whom it will displace: 'Property on the two blocks would need to be assembled under one owner, such as the redevelopment agency. A service station, lock shop, travel agency, offices and other businesses on the blocks now would need to close or relocate. The city could ultimately resort to condemning properties.' (LO city website)
If you want to be able to afford to live in Lake Oswego, and especially if you live west of First Addition or south of the lake, you need to replace our free-spending members on the city council. Each and every Lake Oswego taxpayer is already obligated for a $140,000 federal debt burden and a $3,000 state debt burden (in a state where state debt is supposedly unconstitutional). How much more can the city load on us?
Tom Maginnis is a resident of Lake Oswego.