My husband and I are retired and live on a fixed income.
As the bill payer in our household, I feel we are swimming upstream against the current as we try to maintain a home here in Lake Oswego. Our pre-retirement bucket list been replaced by a list of budget items that we will have to cut out in order to maintain residency in Lake Oswego as we age and deplete our savings.
Our city council often talks about its concern for our elderly citizens (the need for affordable housing, improved transportation and convenient shopping). Yet their actions appear to make our ability to remain in Lake Oswego more difficult to attain. It was reported recently that the wealth gap in the U.S. is now 47 to 1. One only has to look at housing choices in Lake Oswego to see that a similar ratio probably exists in our fine city. I feel so sad when I see a moving van pulling up at our neighbors' homes. A subsequent inquiry discloses that another friendly neighbor has been forced to move by rising housing and living costs.
I look at my sewer and water bills and hear that this year's double-digit increases are only the beginning. Yet citizens haven't taken a serious run at really conserving our water. When people are forced by their pocketbooks to conserve water, what will happen to water and sewer revenues? My bet is that usage revenues will decline and we will face ever-increasing rates. Coupled with higher medical insurance, energy and food costs and taxes out of our checkbooks, I fear how fixed income families are going to cope.
Maybe the politicians and city administrators want to make our community more exclusive after all. Every week I pick up the paper and hear about millions more being spent now or in the future to plan some grandiose development that the city has to front end because the private sector doesn't want to take the risk. Every one of these projects requires the hiring of outside consultants since we don't have the expertise in house.
While we all enjoy our numerous parks, planted medians and lovely renderings of our city's future, maybe we can't afford it in these particularly uncertain times. We all need to take a five-year breather, figure out whether we can afford any of this debt and projects being planned.
We need to reset our objectives and concentrate our tax dollars on schools, fire, police and road maintenance. Continuously abusing the power of the purse, whether it is for utilities, urban renewal, a new library or a 9-1-1 center, our needs should be more conservatively managed and our wants postponed.
I am tired of hearing it will only cost me $20, $30 or $60 per $100,000 of assessed value for the next project. It all adds up folks.
Sundeleaf Plaza is nice, but should we have spent more than $7 million for those restrooms and view? Let's not wake up and find that we are no different than, Greece, Italy, and busted California municipalities, with too much unserviceable debt.
Patricia Sweet is a resident of Lake Oswego.