Please accept this letter into the record for consideration on the proposed Metro Natural Area Levy scheduled for a Metro Council meeting on Dec. 18.

The Regional Mayors’ group met and discussed the Levy proposal at its meeting in November.

Metro Council President Tom Hughes and COO Martha Bennett were in attendance and discussed the proposed levy. Significant concerns were raised by the mayors at that time and the group is unanimously requesting a delay in the levy decision until further impacts to cities are evaluated. The current compression analysis was conducted using last year’s tax data and did not include the results of the tax measures passed in November.

As you are aware, some Metro area cities are more impacted by compression than others. As a result, the financial burden for the levy would not fall evenly on households and their communities across the region. Some cities would have their ability to raise revenue for vital police and fire protection services substantially limited as a result of having additional regional levies on the books.

In addition to concerns regarding compression, the plan for the remaining natural area’s bond purchases and impacts on long-term maintenance needs are still unclear to our group. Without further information and clarity regarding the plan for past voter-approved investments, it is hard for us to see the value in asking voters for additional resources.

We also feel that, preceding any discussions about future revenue for Metro, we would encourage the Metro elected officials to sit down early next year with local elected officials to review and discuss their respective governmental roles in the region; where are they aligned, and where is there conflict, potential or actual. We believe that Metro can be helpful in a number of areas, but we remain concerned that those areas of assistance should be in partnership and coordination with local government.

Jerry W. Willey Hillsboro

Shane Bemis Gresham

Doug Neeley Oregon City

Wade Byers Gladstone

Lou Ogden Tualatin

Lori DeRemer Happy Valley

Gery Schirado Durham

Craig Dirksen Tigard

Ron Shay King City

Denny Doyle Beaverton

Patricia Smith Wood Village

Jeremy Ferguson Milwaukie

Steve Spinnett Damascus

Jack Hoffman Lake Oswego

Pete Truax Forest Grove

Jim Kight Troutdale

Mike Weatherby Fairview

Tim Knapp Wilsonville

Keith Mays Sherwood

Support Metro’s natural areas levy

Metro is contemplating a very small levy that would cost $1.60 per month on a $200,000 home to raise funds to manage its 16,000-acre portfolio. Some mayors are opposed to the levy. In their letter to Metro President Tom Hughes they posed three concerns: What would it fund? What’s Metro’s role in natural area protection? What’s the potential effect on their ability to collect taxes?

First, the levy will allow on-the-ground restoration and management of the region’s most significant natural areas. It would also put people to work performing restoration, create demand for local nursery stock that will be used in restoration projects, and create citizen stewardship programs.

Second, voters gave Metro a clear mandate to get into natural area acquisition and management by overwhelmingly approving two bond measures totaling $363 million. Without those funds there would be no Drake Lane Park in Hillsboro. Mount Talbert and Gresham’s buttes would be covered with developments, not nature trails. The Tualatin Basin watershed would have lower-quality drinking water and diminished fish and wildlife habitat. There would still be a “hole” in the Tualatin Hills Nature Park. There would be no Cooper Mountain or Graham Oaks Nature Parks.

The mayors are out of step with their constituents who- much like the fish and wildlife they want protected—are not parochial in their desire to enjoy parks and natural areas and act as good stewards. On December 18, Metro Council will consider referring the levy to the region’s voters. Local elected officials should collaborate with Metro, rather than bicker over a $20-per-year measure. They should also understand the value of a regional approach to natural areas, parks and trails funding, and the value of investing in the proper care of these special places for the good of future generations.

Over the long term the region must work to solve the bigger challenges: creating O & M revenues for all park providers and fixing Oregon’s broken tax system, which creates inequity across the board. But, these issues should not hold hostage this modest request to ask voters whether they value protecting their investment in water quality, fish and opportunities to experience nature. Metro Council should give them the opportunity to put their money where their values are——protecting the region’s water quality and ensuring they have access to nature where they live, work and play.

Mike Houck

Urban Greenspaces Institute

executive director

Elections employees support Sherry Hall

I was very pleased to read the response to the editor on Dec. 5—from Maria Hennig in Oregon City—re “Cheap shots” at Sherry Hall.

As one of the “part time” workers for the elections board, I, along with my many co-workers were offended by your editorial on Nov. 21. I am happy that Ms. Hennig answered first as she said it much better than I could. My appreciation to her.

The majority of us workers are retired from various careers, many of us in managerial positions and can easily relate with having one rotten apple in the bunch. We take great pride for the privilege of being called to serve in our capacities as is our civic duty.

For you to lay the blame at Sherry Halls’ feet for the wrong doing of one individual is unconscionable. I am speaking for myself and my co-workers when I say we were all embarrassed, devastated and humiliated for the ballot tampering.

I can only imagine how Sherry felt. She did not try to “cover up” the deceit, but acted in her most professional way by immediately informing those in command. That action alone should prove her honesty and integrity.

In my opinion, your editorial was nothing more than a personal attack on Sherry Hall.

Shirley Camm


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