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“Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today.”

— Will Rogers

I was recently asked “will we have a better future?” by a citizen who was concerned about the cost of living and what they thought was a lower quality of life in Lake Oswego. They mentioned our streets, the empty (West End) building and increasing property taxes/fees. Their question was preceded by a comment that “LO just wasn’t the place it used to be” and “maybe it was time to move.” Dave Berge

It’s unfortunate many residents feel this way after the decisions of recent administrations, given the exceptional nature of our community.

My answer to the question is a qualified yes. Our future is better, but only as long as our new council heeds the words of Will Rogers.

We have enormous potential, but this new council needs to act courageously and decisively. How? They need to clean up the mistakes of the previous administrations and quickly redirect priorities. Lake Oswego needs real change, which can only be achieved by this new council and an exceptional city manager.

There are a lot of cleanups to be done from the self-inflicted wounds of both of the previous mayoral administrations. The WEB and water partnership date back to the Hammerstad administration, while the Hoffman administration wasted enormous amounts of funds in producing divisiveness. Many believe our last administration was defined by arrogance with little regard for a pleading citizenry on issues like sensitive lands, debt and utility rates. These issues must be resolved and taxpayer resources redirected properly for our better future.

Our community clearly voted for change and provided a mandate for this council with its majority of fiscal conservatives. I mentioned this to the resident and expressed that there is a real potential for change. However, this is only true if this council acts decisively and hires a city manager that is an effective change agent. If they get tied up in the bureaucracy and the excuses, they will fail, and our future will not be any better. Time to listen to Will Rogers!

It’s time for decisive leadership. Lake Oswego has been on a defined path of spending and debt for far too long (12 years). That has made Lake Oswego unaffordable, especially for our seniors. The continuously increasing taxes/fees were supported by a political philosophy that Lake Oswego could afford almost anything. That wasn’t accurate and it promoted very poor returns on taxpayer funds. We now see the legacy of that philosophy with street degradation, empty public buildings and less expenditure on core public services. For many it’s beginning to look a lot like Portland, spending and debt with no results.

Our new council needs to not only make Lake Oswego more affordable, but also to demonstrate accountability by reducing taxes, fees and spending on noncore projects, while simultaneously increasing funds to core areas like streets. This will require a planned effort with tangible results for the voters. It won’t be an easy task, but it can be done by councilors who are committed to a better future.

It’s time to reverse the “tax and spend” philosophy and implement a better future which is affordable for all our current residents. Feel free to visit COLA LO at commonsenselo.blogspot.com or commonsenselo.org.

Dave Berg is a 22-year resident of Lake Oswego and a board member of COLA LO.

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