Measure 3-269 restraints excessive
A year ago I was campaigning for one of three open positions on the Lake Oswego City Council. During that campaign, all five candidates were frequently asked, in public forums and press interviews, their opinion of the city council's purchase of the 14-acre site and 88,000-square-foot office building formerly owned by Safeco. And each candidate responded that they supported the purchase of the property. Not one candidate ran on a platform against that purchase or against a financially irresponsible local government.
Now I read in the Review that John Surrett of Ask Lake Oswegans' says that their initiative ballot measure, 3-269, is a direct result of 'the governance in this town.' And that elected officials can't be trusted to be financially responsible, so voters should be allowed to 'weigh-in' on large land purchases.
So the 8,600-plus voters who elected three new councilors last November voted for irresponsible scalawags? Please!
I believe in responsible representative government and that is just what we are fortunate to have here in Lake Oswego. The voters elected me to the council to uphold the high standard of government they have come to expect. I am proud of the outstanding financial record of our city. Because we have such fine stewardship of our finances, our city has earned an Aaa bond rating from Moody's and an AAA bond rating from Standard and Poor's. To earn these ratings, these national agencies evaluate several criteria, including economic diversity, financial performance and flexibility, debt burden and financial management practices. Lake Oswego is the only city in Oregon to earn these highest ratings.
Financially irresponsible? Hardly!
The availability of the Safeco property was a unique opportunity that called for an unusual strategy of financing and purchase in order for the city to accomplish a successful transaction. Unusual, yes, but not irresponsible. In order for the city to keep the property or do any major capital improvements to it without a private partner, it will require voter approval of general obligation bonds. Future public ownership of this property was always going to be voted on by the citizens of Lake Oswego. But Measure 3-269 is not really about this purchase is it? As mentioned above, Ask Lake Oswegans' simply don't trust city government.
Because Ask Lake Oswegans' are so distrustful, they are spouting fantasy numbers for hypothetical future taxes they claim are being hidden from the unsuspecting public. In fact, your city council has prioritized future expenditures on infrastructure by replacing our main sewer interceptor line and improving the capacity of our fresh water system. All of these costs have been well documented. Even if you include a $20 million general obligation bond on the West End property (Safeco), with new city sewer, water and urban renewal debt, homes with an average assessed value of $300,000 will see a gradual increase of approximately $516 in combined taxes and utility fees per year or $43 a month.
No other city in Oregon is saddled with the excessive restraint on governance that Measure 3-269 proposes. When asked how the city might be able to secure a $2-plus+ million property from a seller under this initiative, Surrett suggested the city could give the seller non-refundable earnest money to hold the property until a vote took place. So turning over thousands of city tax dollars to potential property sellers if a vote to purchase fails is financially responsible?
Please vote no on Measure 3-269. Your trust in local government can't be fabricated from this poorly crafted amendment to our city charter.
Thank you for your trust and the opportunity to serve you.
Donna Jordan is a Lake Oswego City Councilor.