Colton Corner: County Commissioner talks local issues
Clackamas County Commissioner Paul Savas attended the March meeting of the Colton Planning Organization. CPO Chair Gary Hampton announced that because Savas has declared his candidacy for re-election and no other candidates were in attendance, topics of discussion needed to be held mostly to questions and answers and what county measures are in process at this time.
Savas discussed a number of subjects that are important to the rural areas of Clackamas County.
He touched on marijuana farms and dispensaries, noting that so far the county has not seen as much money from the sales as had been projected. He did add that a recent tax increase on marijuana sales would add a little more money to the coffers.
The county commissioner talked about the low unemployment rate in the county, but explained that in Oregon if a person works one hour per month, that person is considered employed. The same is said for part-time and temp workers and he believes Oregon data numbers do not properly represent the state's unemployment rate. He also mentioned that according to data, wages have not kept up with the standard of living in Oregon.
The subject of the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) looking to levy tolls on roads was brought up. Savas stated that tolls for I-5 and I -205 are being considered. The proposals include tolling all lanes or the possibility of a tolled express lane to make a faster, less congested lane for those willing to pay the fee. Savas also said tolling all roads has been discussed. He explained that ODOT'S purpose in the proposed tolls is to cut down on congestion on the interstates, but Savas acknowledged this would increase congestion on county roads as the rural areas become more populated with people look to bypass the fees.
Savas said although the state's gas tax went up 4 cents a gallon in January and a two-year vehicle registration increased by $13 per year, with more gas efficient cars and electric vehicles on the roads, ODOT says they will still not make up the loss of gas tax money slated for road and infrastructure repair and improvements, and the tolls are needed.
Speaking to road repairs, Savas said the repair and stabilizing to the important thoroughfare of highway 213 in Mulino is at the top of the county's list of must-dos.
Homelessness is an important issue to Savas as he helps take the homeless count each year. He mentioned the lack of housing, poverty in rural regions, zombie homes, where the uncertainty of ownership leaves them vacant, and affordable housing. He also agreed that land use issues need updates and changes.
"It seemed more like he was listening to our concerns," CPO member Don Tremble said in a message. "It also seemed as if he was explaining the different things he was working on and the many adversities facing the county. I truly enjoyed listening to him and having him there. To be honest, I wish more of the county commissioners would make an effort to come and hear our concerns."