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The city wants to raise revenues to pay for the many pathway projects it has yet to complete

COURTESY PHOTO: CITY OF LAKE OSWEGO - Carman Drive from Waluga Drive to Quarry Road is an example of a roadway that the city has determined could use an improved pathway.

Pending Lake Oswego City Council approval, local citizens may soon see their monthly street maintenance fee increase.

The City Council will soon consider whether to raise the maintenance fee by $5.60 per month for single-family homes and $3.90 for multifamily homes — as well as separate increases for non-residential properties based on category and square footage. The current monthly fee is $9.95 for single-family homes and $7.11 per unit for multifamily homes. The increases would take effect next July and the council is slated to vote on a proposed increase in December.

The council directed staff earlier this year to bring forward a maintenance fee increase — specifically requesting to pursue the higher end of potential increases — as a way to raise revenue for pathway projects. Currently, the city is eying dozens of projects but only has enough money to do a few at a time. Right now the city is exploring pathways in the Forest Highlands, Hallinan, Waluga and Lake Grove neighborhoods. The city's Transportation Advisory Board helps prioritize the pathway projects, and proximity to local schools is one of the city's most important priorities.

COURTESY PHOTO: CITY OF LAKE OSWEGO - The city built this pathway on Knaus Road.

The budget for the four neighborhood projects totals around $2.3 million and the maintenance fee increase would raise $1.5 million in annual revenue. Overall, the city's street fund has about $27.7 million (which also goes toward maintenance and ADA improvements) for the biennial budget and the annual income for the street maintenance fund is about $6 million.

"Largely Lake Oswego was built at a time when we didn't have 40,000 people and didn't have sidewalks and pathways and infrastructure protecting non-car driving. As we've grown in the community, we need the ability to have people go to businesses, neighborhoods, schools, the library and have a safe walking area … that is not on the roadway with cars," said Madison Thesing, the assistant to the city manager.

City Engineer Erica Rooney said during a May meeting that the local government has over 120 pathway projects in its Transportation System Plan and that the total cost of the projects would likely exceed $120 million. City Council directed staff to pursue the maintenance fee increase rather than going out for a general obligation bond during that meeting, as councilors didn't want to burden residents with paying for another bond. But they chose the higher end of the spectrum for the maintenance fee increase so that more funding could be accumulated and the city could complete projects faster. Local residents cited improved pathways as one of the city's biggest infrastructure needs during a 2021 survey.

"Council has prioritized safe access to schools as a goal to align with the community's priorities. The only way to meet this goal, without jeopardizing other existing maintenance services, is to have more funding dedicated to this effort," said City Engineer Erica Rooney wrote via email.

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