Oak Lodge incorporation is 'last thing we need'
Recent news coverage of Milwaukie Councilor Lisa Batey brought up a recurring theme, incorporating Oak Grove and Jennings Lodge.
I lived in Oak Grove for 20 years before moving a few miles to Gladstone. The picture created in this news article is not inclusive, and implies that incorporation is a viable issue at this time. There has been a long history of resistance to incorporation because another layer of government, one possibly controlled by special interests, isn't appealing. Several years ago Clackamas County funded a survey of unincorporated residents, and the opposition was overwhelming.
Why bring it up at this uncertain time?
I am not opposed to incorporation, but have deep concerns about claims that unincorporated residents don't pay their fair share, or that incorporation is a panacea.
Unincorporated residents pay for water, sewer, parks and library services. They consistently support a levy that pays for additional police protection in urban areas. Clackamas Fire provides identical service to unincorporated areas as it does to the city of Milwaukie. No one is riding for free.
Regarding road funding, everyone in the county pays the new 10 cent per gallon state gas tax for maintenance, the federal gas tax and the county vehicle registration fee. None of those sources were mentioned in the news article.
When it comes to fairness, most of the unincorporated residents are still feeling the sting of the North Clackamas Parks & Recreation District lawsuit with Happy Valley. Meanwhile, the Parks Board recently approved $9 million to fund Milwaukie's Waterfront Park. The unincorporated residents of the district will be disproportionately funding a portion of Milwaukie's park.
Batey raised some good points, but failed to mention issues and concerns worthy of a much bigger discussion — discussion that must involve rigorous application of Goal 1.
For those who aren't aware, citizen involvement is Goal 1, and it's No. 1 for an obvious reason. A process driven by Metro, Milwaukie or other special interests will only result in more angst and division. That's the last thing we need during these uncertain times.
Les Poole is a Gladstone resident.
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