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The West Linn City Council recently sprung the news of a potential $5 million payment negotiated from Lake Oswego-Tigard water project officials. It is hoped the council and their negotiator took the following facts into account in their dealings:

1) With the LOT project approved, Lake Oswego will more than likely control the Stafford area development. Their available water supply and excess school capacity will seal West Linn’s fate as loser in any Stafford land use decision. Incidentally, LO will pick up at least $5 million in revenue from that area’s tax base and subsequent system development fees.

2) Pages ES10 and 11 of the 2007 LOT consultant’s report state LO residents will save $63 million should the LOT project be implemented and their water bills “are forecasted to increase cumulatively 56 percent over the next 25 years.” This is less than 3 percent annually, a lot lower than the WL rate projections of more than 5 percent.

3) The LOT project will create more than 50 percent forecasted capacity for Tigard and LO. There is nothing preventing Lake Oswego from selling a portion of this excess water to a number of jurisdictions; the project becomes a cash cow for LO.

If I were negotiating this is the minimum I would ask for:

1) As a former LO resident, planning commissioner and city councilor, I have a reasonable historical perspective of where they (LO) are heading. A $7 million “upfront” payment to West Linn is reasonable. For example, if the city of West Linn does not hold up the project in state Supreme Court, the LOT construction cost savings are at least 3 percent (this does not preclude neighborhood suits at LUBA level). Incidentally, 40 percent of the “upfront” West Linn payment could be given as credits to future tax revenues for home and business owners adversely affected by the project.

2) For the first 25 years of the project, 75 cents per month of every LOT-metered customer monthly bill would be due WL. Trying to determine how many meters currently exist in the LOT service boundary was near impossible (that is a story in itself) but using 34,000 meters would net WL $306,000 annually ($7.65 million over the contract). This revenue and “upfront” payment would be enough to rehabilitate our ageing water system.

3) Lastly, on any new customers where LOT water leaves the current LOT service boundary once the project is completed as currently proposed, WL would receive a 7 percent surcharge on each water unit sold. This protects WL from being the unknowing partner in a LO maneuver to sell excess capacity at a profit.

I am not taking a position on the merits of the legal challenges wrapped up in the current LOT hearing. However, the West Linn City Council must take every conceivable issue into consideration when dealing with the LOT project.

Negotiate well or do not negotiate at all!

Mike Taylor is a resident of West Linn.

Contract Publishing

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