Dont be fooled by Ask Me Firsts numbers
In attempting to frighten our fellow Lake Oswegans into voting yes on Ballot Measure 3-269 and taking the power to make decisions affecting our community out of the hands of our accountable elected leaders and placing it into the hands of a small group of unelected special interests, the Ask Me First PAC has recently been distributing literature purporting to state the overwhelming debts that all of us will be saddled with unless the hands of our mayor and city council are tied immediately and permanently.
Let's take a close look at AMF's numbers:
The proponents of Measure 3-269 would have us believe that we are facing an immediate non-discretionary bill of $78-118 million for our water supply. The truth, however, is that the present number is actually much closer to $5 million. The earliest we would see numbers even approaching those suggested by AMF is 2015, some eight years from now. Furthermore, there are already active talks under way about a joint water project with Tigard under which our neighbor city would shoulder 60 percent of that debt.
AMF also insists that, in addition to the $20 million purchase price for the West End/former Safeco property, we face debts of $60 million for the building of a community center and $25 million for relocation of the library. What they don't tell you is that neither of these uses for the property has in fact been decided upon, and that before either one (or another one entirely) is set into motion, we will first have an extensive community conversation in which we all will have a voice and the right to vote on both use and funding.
And speaking of funding … those who oppose our retaining the property are often heard stating that we are paying significant sums every month simply to hold onto it while receiving nothing in return. They fail to note that the city bought the Safeco property with a loan at 5 percent interest, whereas property values on that stretch of Kruse Way have recently been appreciating at rates between 12.5 and 15 percent. This was a wise investment by our elected leaders. No wonder Lake Oswego has received the highest bond ratings of both Moody's and Standard and Poor's, setting it apart from virtually every other community in the Pacific Northwest.
Most disingenuous is the assertion that we face debt ranging between $216 to $334 million for 'urban renewal' projects such as Foothills, the sewage plant closure, the streetcar and the Lake Grove Village Plan. Again, AMF omits the fact that none of these projects is in an urban renewal area, and that as such, none of these debts could be taken on with a vote of our citizens.
In summary, the total potential new and future debt facing our town is in the range of $128 million, not in excess of $600 million, as Ask Me First would have us believe. What that means to each of us owning a home in Lake Oswego with an assessed value of $300,000 is an increased property tax bill of $516 per year, not $2,120 as AMF has claimed.
Our elected leaders, who must defend their records and face the possibility of removal during each election cycle, have made prudent and positive decisions for the good of our community. Let's not take away their ability to continue to do so and place the decision-making power into the hands of a small, angry, unelected and unaccountable minority.
Please vote no on 3-269.
Chuck O'Leary is a resident of Lake Oswego.