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Street fee protects citys investment

There was little opposition to Oregon City's plan to establish a monthly fee to maintain its roads at a meeting last week.

In the ensuing days, however, a small chorus has spoken out against the fee. This is predictable. Any time a jursidcition looks to charge more money for anything, it illicits a knee-jerk response of 'No.'

It's true that the street fee will make it slightly more expensive to live and do business in Oregon City. And some may note that the 3 percent per-year increase that's allowed may account for inflation, but doesn't always match up with wage increases when the economy tanks - like it is now.

The reality is that the fee is a fair method the city has developed to deal with a growing problem that affects everyone. And while it may amount to a couple of dollars a week extra in fees, it could amount to great savings in the long run while the city protects its infrastructure investment.

For a comparison, think for a moment about owning a car. It runs well when it's new. Over time, it needs maintenance. You replace the tires, install new brake pads, get the oil changed, rotate the tires. Do these things on a regular schedule, and the car is likely to perform better over a longer period of time. Neglect those items, and problems will mount.

Roads are no different. With paving costs ranging from $35 to $52 per yard, maintaining streets can be expensive. But that's nothing compared to actually replacing a street, which can cost four-to-five-times more than general maintenance.

At the same time that paving costs are rising, Oregon City is seeing a spike in population that is bringing more trips to its streets.

Some have argued that many of these trips are generated by folks outside of Oregon City. That may be true, but so is this: virtually every resident uses the city's streets in some way. Drivers, cyclists, people who use public transportation, even pedestrians, rely on a well-maintained road system for safe travel.

It's never easy to support an increase in fees, but residents should be aware that a little extra money now could save a lot in the future.

We encourage you to find out more for yourself at a series of informative sessions the city and Oregon City Chamber of Commerce are holding on the fee. The first forum will be held April 8 from 3 to 5 p.m. at Willamette Falls Hospital. The second will be held April 9 at 7 p.m. in the the Pioneer Community Center, 615 5th St.