King City can't afford to maintain streets
Can King City afford to maintain its streets and roads?
The King City gas tax failed on the November 2016 ballot. In the council meeting following the election, the city manager reported to the City Council that the tax was to raise approximately $100,000 to be added to the approximately $200,000 available in the King City budget for street and road maintenance, and it would therefore be necessary to delay some street maintenance projects.
(The total 2016-2017 budget for streets and roads is $509,000. It wasn't explained how the reported $200,000 figure fit into that total). In a later council meeting, the CPA delivering the city's annual audit report recommended that the council seek expert help to determine the expected costs of street and road maintenance. Apparently those costs are not adequately reflected in the city's financial budgeting and reporting.
I am a resident of the King City Highlands, a 55-plus community of 319 homes and condos. The King City Council is preparing to annex the KC Highlands. We have a number of streets that need repairs. King City has told us that it will also take responsibility for a stretch of privately owned street in the Highlands and resurface it within two years. The estimated cost, $40,000. In two years that cost will be much higher.
It has been announced that Washington County plans to convey over to King City the south side of Beef Bend, all of 131st and Fischer Road. In addition, King City has plans to annex more unincorporated property.
King City property taxes for Highlands residents will not be assessed immediately but will gradually ramp up over a period of six years. So if increased taxes are required to keep all of this current and newly acquired asphalt properly maintained, it seems likely that the immediate burden will fall on the current residents of King City, and all annexed property owners will be looking at elevated property taxes in the future.
Why is King City so anxious to annex neighborhoods if it cannot maintain the property for which it is now responsible? The council should sort out this problem and explain to the citizens of King City and the Highlands how the cost of street and road maintenance will be quantified and provided for – before any annexations.
King City is one of the few cities in Oregon that does not have a provision in its City Charter requiring its citizens to vote on annexations. Sherwood and Canby have that provision in their charters and along with many other Oregon municipalities have recently voted down annexations, fearing increased taxes.
If the citizens of King City were fully informed about this street and road maintenance issue, how would they vote on annexations?