WL council finds common ground on bond projects
After weeks of heated discussions about how to divvy up the projected $17-19 million raised with the voter-approved renewal of a General Obligation (GO) bond, the West Linn City Council presented a united front Monday, April 9, as it unanimously approved a draft list of bond projects.
In approving the list of 10 big picture projects that relate to transportation, parks and city facilities, the council made clear that the list was meant as a guide for the future and that funding for projects had yet to be decided.
"We're not going to put a dollar figure on this tonight, and we're all in agreement on this," City Council President Brenda Perry said. "We have a list of projects — (funding) is going to very much depend on what's ready (for construction) and when.
"We will put money in all of these areas. What proportion depends on how much money we get, how much money is available, what projects are ready and when."
The proposed ballot measure, which will be up for vote May 15, would renew an existing bond levy of 42 cents per $1,000 in assessed property value that has been in place since 1998. Such a renewal is estimated to generate $15-19 million over the course of about 21 years.
After completing several voter surveys in late 2017 and early 2018, the City targeted roads, parks and city facilities as priorities for improvements should the bond pass. Specifically, funds would be allocated to "design and construct safe routes to schools, sections of Highway 43, arterials, streets and intersections to address safety, traffic flow and connectivity." The ballot language further promises to "repair and improve aging city-owned properties" and "rehabilitate existing park facilities."
The vote Monday was a reverse in course after a series of tense discussions about the bond — the last of which took place during a work session April 2 with just three councilors present (Perry was on vacation and councilor Bob Martin remained on leave).
During that meeting, Mayor Russ Axelrod presented a detailed breakdown of how funding could be used in the category of city facility improvements, arguing that many projects could be completed for less than the amount that councilors Rich Sakelik and Teri Cummings preferred to allocate for city facilities.
Cummings and Sakelik contested the accuracy of Axelrod's numbers while also stating that it was too early to make decisions about funding for individual projects.
A week later, the council found common ground in Cummings' and Sakelik's line of thinking.
"I think we're all in universal agreement about the rough proportions of money and how it's going to be divided up," Axelrod said. "We don't know exactly how some of these things are going to fold out, and for us to get caught up in trying to vet them now is probably not productive. I think we all want to spend time moving the bond forward and getting it approved, because there's a little bit of something for everybody."
Cummings noted that the last time the City passed a bond, 20 years ago, the language presented stated it would be used for local parks without further specification.
"We don't even know how much money we're going to have to work with," Cummings said. "And just like with the (1998) parks bond, we don't know yet how much each of those projects is going to cost."
"The process is not over. The process is barely beginning at this point," Sakelik said.
The council will further discuss the bond with the public during a town hall meeting at 7 p.m. tonight at the West Linn Police Station.
The draft project list can be viewed at bit.ly/