Milwaukie residents chose to tax themselves
I read with interest the article titled "Milwaukie calls on Clackamas County to fast track new cities." The assertion that unincorporated areas are not paying their fair share is one that certainly attracts attention, but lacks any data to support the claim. Before that argument is advanced, detailed verifiable financial data to support it needs to be gathered. Because Milwaukie residents have chosen to tax themselves, to provide services they want, does not mean that residents of other areas would make the same decisions. And frankly, few if any of them are lobbying to have someone else pay for their amenities. Incidentally, cities get gas tax revenue, as does the county. This was omitted from the funding sources listed by Councilor Batey.
I am a supporter of cost of service rates and fees, but that means you really need to know the costs. I also believe that residents and taxpayers should have the final say on the services they want and can afford. Chair Bernard had it right when he said that any incorporation effort needs to come from the residents of local communities. And if incorporations are pursued again, financial data needs to underpin the efforts as well as documentation for costs for additional services envisioned. Generalities won't work.
In conclusion, the argument about "others not paying their fair share" often rises when the economy is not doing particularly well. When businesses are not thriving, unemployment is high and wages are constrained, tax and governmental fee revenue will be down, too. Public entities need to operate within the revenue which their communities have authorized. We all have to live within our means. Let's see the data, and then we can talk.
Susan Keil is a resident of Oak Grove.
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