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Poll: More city projects will get more votes

New polling indicates that Milwaukie voters would more likely vote to pay for a $4 million light-rail bond if it included other projects on the city’s wish list.

Only 47 percent of citizens would vote for a bond measure solely to pay for Milwaukie’s obligation to TriMet, evenly split with 47 percent opposed, according to a telephone survey released last week. Once respondents were asked again, after learning arguments in favor and against, whether the average Milwaukie homeowner should pay an extra $38 in property taxes annually so light-rail payments didn’t cut into city services, support increased to 49 percent.

But support increased dramatically to 67 percent if the library expansion were included in the bond measure. Based on polling data, Councilor Mark Gamba celebrated that the city also could get 57 to 60 percent support by including the Riverfront Park or other neighborhood parks in the bond vote. Gamba expected success for a larger bond with a “get out the vote” effort among younger voters who are more likely to vote in favor.

“Voters and I concur that we would like to see those projects that we’ve been wanting for decades come to fruition,” Gamba said.

Mayor Jeremy Ferguson, during a study session last Thursday evening, appointed Gamba to an exploratory subcommittee along with another member of City Council who was much less sanguine about the chances of the city passing a bond. Councilor Mike Miller warned that the poll didn’t ask respondents about specific dollar amounts for other potential bond-funded projects, and support often wanes when voters learn this information.

Adam Davis, founding partner of the Davis, Hibbits and Midghall Research firm that the city contracted for $12,000, noted that the poll targeted likely voters in an off-year election that tend to be older, longer-term residents. Sixty percent of those polled earlier this month were 55 and older.

Fifty-seven percent of those polled approved of the city’s general direction. With only 35 percent of respondents satisfied with public transportation in the city, a quarter thought the city was on the “wrong track.”

James Kandell, project manager for DHM, said, “Milwaukie is a great place to live, and we need to keep it that way by supporting core services” tested well at 81 percent as a potential bond campaign slogan. However, 60 percent noted the slow economy as a good reason to oppose a bond measure.

A $20 million bond would require a $186 per-year tax increase on average homes with an assessed value of $200,000. Expansion costs for Ledding Library present a major unknown to the city’s bond-measure decision, and the 20,000 recommended additional square feet could cost more than $10 million.

Recent library survey results showed patrons would like to keep the library at its present-day location. They asked for more places to plug-in their mobile devices, more quiet rooms and event meeting spaces.

The library consultant’s report will be delivered at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 2, in City Hall. Gamba and Miller are expected to deliver their recommendation for the bond measure on July 16.

Editors note: This web story has been edited from its original version to reflect the citys updated time for the library consultants report and to clarify the fact that the survey asked with information about the bond price both times.