Were all part of city goverment
Historically, the city of Lake Oswego government has demonstrated excellent planning and fiscal responsibility. This is confirmed by the recent triple-A rating the city received from Moody's, an honor earned by fewer than 10 city governments throughout this country. Present and past Lake Oswego City Council members should share the praise.
Nevertheless, because of these previous achievements, I am concerned that our city leaders may have come to adopt an attitude that the 'sky's the limit' regarding future city enhancement projects.
A key example is the recent acquisition of the Safeco building on the assumption that the city residents would be happy to foot the cost of converting it to a community center. That $20 million transaction took place even though a 2005 survey that the city conducted through Campbell DeLong Associates reflected that 45 percent of the respondents were negative toward the plan and 36 percent were positive (city of Lake Oswego Community Assessment dated January and February, 2005, page 37, section V). Additionally, it should be noted that the city suspended a policy that provided no more than 25 percent of Property Tax Fund reserves may be held in land at any one time in order to accommodate the Safeco property purchase (Resolution 06-15, dated April 18, 2006). That is a slap in the constituents' face when a resident survey clearly demonstrated a lack of support.
One thing we must never forget is that the city of Lake Oswego government is each and every one of us when it comes to the provision of financial resources for city projects. All of us must make sound decisions on how to spend our money to ensure our basic needs are met. Any additional money can then be earmarked for savings, entertainment, etc ...
Any city government's first and foremost responsibility resides with the safety and health of its residents. That responsibility, however, does not appear to be the top priority with the city of Lake Oswego. The decaying infrastructure of the city's sewer system has been allowed to go on far too long. The Lake Oswego community has encountered problems with sewage drainage and overflows for the past 10 years that has been brought to the city's attention repeatedly. However, only within this past year has there been active public dialogue addressing possible solutions to the problem. The latest example is the front page article in the Lake Oswego Review last Thursday, Jan. 4, which points out that $65 million has been budgeted for the sewer replacement project. History has shown that projects of this magnitude hit unexpected obstacles, driving the overall cost much higher.
As I mentioned above, we all have to make decisions about how to spend our money. I, for one, don't appreciate the city of Lake Oswego telling me that I should support both the cost of a community entertainment center and the replacement of a collapsing sewer system. Again, history has consistently demonstrated that ambitious government projects such as these escalate dramatically before the final bill arrives.
The latest Lake Oswego Review article stated that 'an earthquake equal to a magnitude 6 on the Richter scale … could result in a massive infusion of untreated sewage to Oswego Lake and the Willamette River.'
Imagine the effect that would have on all of our property values. The immediate sale of the Safeco property would be a good business decision to recover additional revenue that is needed to supplement the cost of replacing the sewer system. Does the city government still have the responsible decision-making ability that has earned a high quality fiscal planning recognition and the confidence of its residents, or is the city going to be embarrassed by the constituents making the decision for it through the ballot process?
Denny Hageman is a Lake Oswego resident.