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Mayor offers State of the City

Lake Oswego's future is filled with some big decisions
by: Submitted Mayor Jack Hoffman

Mayor Jack Hoffman promised that Lake Oswego would continue to be one of the greatest cities in America in which to live.

But it won't be easy.

Hoffman, the city council and City Manager Alex McIntyre will be facing major decisions this year on the West End Build-ing, the streetcar proposal, sensitive lands, protecting natural resources and the Lake Grove Village Plan.

'These problems are so great that just one of them would be a challenge for a year,' Hoffman said. 'The problems are complex and large and they involve issues not easily digested. Debate by sound bites won't work.'

The mayor made his comments Monday during his State of the City address before the Lake Oswego and Lake Grove Rotary Clubs at the Lakewood Center.

Hoffman noted, 'This has been a very difficult time for Lake Oswego. Twice as many Lake Oswegans are out of work now as there were three years ago. There has been a 22 percent fall in home sales since their peak of three years ago.'

Still, Hoffman said he could point to some outstanding accomplishments for Lake Oswego as the city begins its second century in 2011.

'Outside appraisers (Moody's, Standard and Poor's) say the city financial position is great,' Hoffman said. 'We have a Triple A bond rating. That means lower taxes and fees for Lake Oswego citizens and has allowed us to do major infrastructure projects.'

For example, Hoffman noted that the Lake Oswego Interceptor Sewer project is the largest infrastructure efforts in city history. But what the city fathers really like about LOIS is that its cost has been whittled down from $124 million to $94 million.

In another major water program, the Lake Oswego-Tigard Water Partnership will assure both cities a plentiful supply of water in the future.

Such major accomplishments, Hoffman said, put Lake Oswego well ahead of cities that have seen fit to delay important projects.

'Unfunded, crumbling infrastructure problems are everywhere throughout the country,' Hoffman said. 'It's a $3 trillion problem.'

In Lake Oswego, 'your city council will tackle these issues (locally) and assume the responsibility for them.'

Hoffman admitted that his first two years in office had been highly challenging and that 'I never thought I would be the target of every ill in Lake Oswego.'

But the mayor did not avoid matters of great concern to citizens.

'I'm concerned when people say they can no longer live in Lake Oswego,' Hoffman said. 'Is Lake Oswego affordable?'

He answered his own question by presenting statistics showing that Lake Oswego compares quite favorably to surrounding cities in affordability, ranking seventh out of 11 cities in property taxes.

'Lake Oswego is affordable,' Hoffman said. 'What we have here is something other cities can only dream of.

'But we all must work together to solidify the great place we call home.'

Possession of so many outstanding qualities will make Lake Oswego a likely place for population growth over the next few decades.

'We have the ability to accommodate much of the growth over the next 20 years, especially in the Foothills District (which has 120 acres),' Hoffman said. 'The people who will be coming to Lake Oswego are the Millennials (Generation Y), working singles, small families and the younger Baby Boomers.'