A yes vote on 3-269 provides a check and balance on the city
- Marilyn Helm
- Lake Oswego Review - Opinion
This Nov. 6, we urge you to vote yes on Measure 3-269 and a no on 3-273 and here's why: Last year citizens concerned about the Safeco property purchase were not allowed to voice their opinions and were left with only one course of action -the initiative process. In an extraordinarily short period of time, more than 5,000 signatures were gathered to first, provide a reasonable check and balance on the city's big spending and second, to get a binding vote on the Safeco property. The resounding strength of this initiative effort persuaded the city council to grudgingly put Measure 3-273 on the ballot for an advisory, i.e. non-binding vote to keep or to sell Safeco.
The subsequent campaign of disinformation by the city and their supporters, (Our City Our Future political action committee) has been aimed at confusing voters and discrediting the Measure 3-269 grassroots citizen group, Ask Lake Oswegans. Their spokesman recently called Ask Lake Oswegan's a 'small, special interest group' which prefers 'anarchy' over our representative government. Well, if they mean that more than 5,000 concerned citizens comprise a small interest group and that a reasonable check and balance on an out-of-touch city council is anarchy then they may have a point!
While these personal attacks are certainly mean-spirited, their most damaging deception is their deliberate attempt to understate or obscure the true costs of future obligations. They say most of the city's planned projects are not even going forward. But this is just not true. A quick read of the minutes from council meetings, retreats and planning documents clearly reveals their many spending plans. The $100 million plus community center has for years been their first priority, even ahead of the EPA mandated sewer project. This opposes the conclusion of several citizen surveys which showed only 'lukewarm support' for a community center!
They assume that we are either not paying attention or that we have very short memories! For example, when they say that the water project cost is only $5 million they are disingenuously revealing only today's expenditure, not the total $100 million cost. Their goal is to deceive voters and obscure the total cost by parceling out expenditures bit by bit and election by election.
But citizens need to see the whole picture. First, the essential sewer and water projects will add approximately $200 million in new debt, raising the property tax on a $300,000 home by about $1,100 every year for 20 years. This huge increase, while necessary, will have a heavy impact on those on fixed incomes, young families and residents trying to sell or buy a home.
Now add the non-essential $100 million-plus Safeco/community center project. This includes relocating our library, our Adult Community Center and Parks and Recreation to the Safeco building. Councilor Groznik's citizen view of Oct. 11, 'Imagine a bright, happy future' clearly spells out their dreamy plans for spending our money. On top of this there will be significant taxpayer obligations and risks in the proposed money gobbling urban renewal projects which include the Lake Grove Village Plan, the Foothills development, the possible sewage plant closure/relocation, and the streetcar project (city of Lake Oswego Capital Improvement Plan 2004-2009). If we add the essential with the non-essential projects, the average $300,000 home could see a total tax increase as high as $2,120 per year for 20 years.
Voting yes on Measure 3-269 will provide a reasonable check and balance on city property purchases greater than $2 million and a chance to cast a binding vote in the spring on the Safeco property. Voting no on 3-273 will send a loud, clear message to the city council that the Safeco property purchase was a gross over-reach and should be sold before it explodes into the city council's dream of a $100 million+ community center and the resulting crushing debt burden for citizens.
Marilyn Helm is a resident of Lake Oswego.