The mayor of Troutdale, Paul Thalhofer, Multnomah County Chairman Ted Wheeler and Commissioner Lonnie Roberts all agree that the bridge intergovernmental agreement is flawed. They want to push ahead anyway. If this were a business, the flaws would be worked out before moving ahead. Look at the flawed Wapato jail. Multnomah County knew it did not have the funds to open it, but built it anyway.
I want to thank the Troutdale City Council for voting this agreement down. Wheeler has stated that he still has your ear and that it's not over until it's over. If he and Roberts come back, continue to tell them that it is over.
A recent editorial in The Outlook, states that Wheeler is a strong supporter of the new library in Troutdale. That library was written into a county bond, so he has to support it.
The Outlook also stated that the fee would be between $15 and $27. Until now, everyone has been talking $27. I am sure the increased fee will be $27. Wheeler is asking each City Council to inflict a financial harm on every one of the city's constituents. The Outlook also states there is a 20-year sunset on this fee. Another newspaper reported that there is an option on extending this fee for another 20 years. What do you think? Will the county let this fee go away or extend it? I bet it is extended.
The county says it will explore other funding possibilities; these include tolling, gasoline tax increase. These should be the first items, not secondary. The word explore is open-ended, and once they get the registration increased, the other funding opportunities will fade away. The county also talks about a regional bridge authority. What is the cost of this new layer of government? The county should be knocking on the state's door to make this a regional issue.
Wheeler and Roberts state they have support from all the other cities except Troutdale. The county only has nothing until all of the other city councils have voted. Do not single out Troutdale until you have secured the votes from the other councils.
There is also no guarantee that the money raised will go to the Sellwood Bridge, or that there will be any federal matching funds. There is no guarantee that the county would stop collecting the fees if it could not get federal or state funding. The IGA has several flaws and no benefit to East County.
If the Troutdale City Council does not agree with the county's IGA and the increase in vehicle registration passes, the fee increase will stay in Troutdale and be used to benefit our city. If the other cities in East County did not support the IGA, the county will find another way to fund the bridges.
To the other city councils who have not voted, go out and talk with your constituents. I am sure you will find that they feel the same as Troutdale. Do not support the bridge IGA of the county.
John Wilson is a Troutdale resident.