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Let me count the ways of spending

As the city council spends our money on the Safeco community center project, let's think about how we could be spending the money in other more productive ways.

The total estimated cost of the proposed Safeco Community Center: $100 million.

How can we spend $100 million? Let me count the ways:

* Full payment for the entire Lake interceptor sewer replacement project, at its most expensive estimate - $65 to $100 million. While the sewer replacement costs will be included in our water bill, it is still a tax we have to pay.

*Fund 62.5 percent of the entire city of Lake Oswego budget for 2005-2007 biennium. This includes all budgeted expenses of all city departments, all budgeted capital outlays, and all budgeted debt service payments for the two year period. 11

* Eliminate all property taxes collected for the city of Lake Oswego for 4 years. 2

* Fully fund the police, fire and communications departments for 5 years. 1

* Fully fund the Lake Oswego School District budget of $76 million for 1.3 years. 3

* Fully fund all costs of the streets and maintenance departments for 14 years. 1

* Fully fund budgeted operations of the library, municipal court, adult community center and street car funds for 18 years. 1

* Buy a new laptop computer for every Lake Oswego student every two years from kindergarten to senior in high school in perpetuity. 4

* Fully fund the water, sanitary, sewer and surface water funds for 5.6 years. No water bills for nearly six years. 1

* Fully fund the parks and recreation budget for 17 years. 1

* Fully fund a $5,000 annual college scholarship for 1,200 Lake Oswego students for 50 years. 5

* If the $100 million bond issue is rejected, Lake Oswego taxpayers will have $160 million over 20 years to use for their personal requirements - college expenses, buying a house, household expenses, vacation costs, food, and other necessities, etc.

Note: Because of the interest we need to pay on the loan, the total payments on the $100 million bond issue will actually be $160 million over 20 years.

The city paid $20 million for the Safeco property, which is unfit for any city use because of its cost. How can we spend $20 million? Let me count the ways:

* Fund 80 percent of all property taxes collect for the city of Lake Oswego for one year! 2

* Fund 72 percent of the entire Capital Improvements Budget for the city for the 2005-2007 biennium. This budget did not include the community center purchase. 1

* Fully fund the operating budgets of the police, fire and communications departments for one year. 1

* Fully fund the operating budgets for streets and maintenance, library, municipal court and adult community center for 1.8 years. 1

*Fully fund the parks and recreation department budget, including all parks and pathways, golf course, tennis facilities and arts support, for 3.3 years. 1

* Fully fund $5,000 annual college scholarships for 250 Lake Oswego students for 50 years.

Interest payments on a $20 million short-term loan used to purchase the Safeco property is $100,000 per month for 30 months. How can we spend $100,000 per month for 30 months? Let me count the ways:

* Add 20 police officers or firemen to full-time payroll. This would be a 62 percent increase in the number of police officers or more than double the number of fire fighters (133 percent increase). 1

* Add 17 Lake Oswego teachers, drug counselors, or psychologists to the full-time payroll. 3

* Rent a laptop computer for every high school student in Lake Oswego. 7

* Fully fund $5,000 annual college scholarhips for 240 Lake Oswego students for three years.

What are your priorities?

Footnotes:

1 - Based on the approved 2005-2007 city of Lake Oswego Budget.

2 - Total budgeted property tax revenues, $50,342,000 for 2005-2007 biennium.

3 - Lake Oswego School District Finance Department

4 - Assumes $1,000 laptop cost, 6800 students. 3

5 - Assumes 6 percent IRR

6 - Assumes 5 percent, 20-year amortization bond issue.

7 - Assumes $45 rental per month for 36 months, 550 students per high school class.

Gordon Umaki is a resident of Lake Oswego.