Austin to represent cities in Washington, DC

Mayor Bob Austin goes to Washington, D.C., as president of the League of Oregon Cities this year.

As I and other elected folks from cities in Oregon prepare to travel to Washington DC to the National League of Cities Conference next week to meet with our Senators and Congressional Leaders, we have a few important concerns to discuss with them about what Oregon cities need to be successful in providing essential services to our citizens today and into the future. I feel very proud and humbled to represent our Oregon cities as the president of the League of Oregon Cities this year.

One of the most important issues affecting many counties as well as cities is the loss of federal revenue from forest receipts, adding up to about $200 million. These funds are used today by local governments for many purposes, including providing essential general fund services like police, libraries, health and road repair. In fact, some counties like Douglas and Curry will lose over 60 percent of their general funds if these timber receipt payments are not replaced. We will meet with our federal congressional delegation including Senators Wyden and Smith who are working hard to resolve this difficult issue.

Other concerns of ours cover potential restrictions on how all cities can manage their rights of way with franchise fees for telecommunications, increased funding for transportation (Sunrise Corridor and other highway maintenance needs) and asking for reauthorization of legislation for critically needed funding to replace aging and to build new water treatment facilities.

Luckily this year we have about 30 delegates from Oregon cities (including mayors from Sandy, Oregon City, Hermiston, Medford, and Hillsboro) going to DC this year to carry our messages. We will also meet and speak with many of our counterparts from other states since they have similar, if not identical, concerns in many areas.

I expect this conference to be a successful one for Oregon cities. I plan to write a few email reports back to the City and Estacada News during my time at the conference and will provide a summary article when I return to Estacada.

-Bob Austin

Mayor of Estacada