Letters to the Editor
Join me in voting yes on Measure 3-552
This measure sensibly restores the language that was in the City Charter until 2013 when it was changed. It adds important word-
ing affirming that our elected City Council is empowered to retain
legal advisers to serve the city's needs.
This would make council's management authority over the City Attorney and other legal consultants clear from now on. Measure 3-552 will improve independence and objectivity in legal services and be cost effective.
According to information submitted by the City Manager and the City Attorney, the savings to West Linn of having one City Attorney under the council will be approximately $166,000 in 2020 and $177,000 in 2021. Similar savings should continue in the future.
During the next 10 years that would be approximately $1,715,000 in savings for our city. An Assistant City Attorney would not be employed by West Linn. Measure 3-552 would establish and limit the authority of the City Manager.
The City Manager is not an elected position, so it is especially important that the authority of the position is clearly defined. Our elected council is held accountable to the public through the process of elections. By passing this measure, they will once again have clear authority over legal services.
No on school construction bond
I believe in the importance of education. As a university professor, I have seen firsthand the doors that education can open. I understand that many people have chosen to live in West Linn because of the quality of the city's schools. You would think that I would vote yes on the construction bond.
But I am also a financial professional and a taxpayer. When a government organization asks the taxpayers to incur $206.8 million in debt, I want a transparent explanation of why the debt is necessary and what the funds will be used for.
The school board has failed on this point. There is still time for the school board to hold open houses and community gatherings to explain why the funds are needed and what the funds will be used for. There is still opportunity for the school board to submit articles to the West Linn Tidings to explain the reason for the construction bond.
Unless the school board becomes more transparent, I will vote no on the construction bond.
Make equity in schools, neighborhoods goal
Dear mayor of Wilsonville, City Council, school board and Planning Commission: I hope that we all share the importance of coordinating on issues of equity in our schools and neighborhoods.
This is why I think the Equitable Housing Strategic Plan has a major impact on all of your work.
For example, earlier this year Portland Public Schools issued a letter of support for the infill housing bill (HB 2001). In my past, I worked with the mayor and school board to establish an Education Compact, which set a quarterly meeting for the school board and the city council to meet to discuss education topics (example of an equity matrix from Roanoke, Virginia).
In following the Equitable Housing Strategy Task Force (my analysis
of first and second meetings), I believe the data and discussions have been quality, but that we are lack-
ing specificity — especially with regard to race — needed to achieve equity.
As policymakers, I am hoping that you can take bold actions to build upon Wilsonville's leadership in housing to take us to the next level of addressing historic racial inequality.
Of the options that were proposed by staff and the consultants, I would highly support the following:
1. Aggressive City acquisition of land for affordable housing development (especially in the Town Center).
2. Offering City-owned land at little to no cost to affordable housing developers. The property adjacent to the SMART/WES station should be a top priority.
3. Team with a nonprofit to offer housing rights and advocacy training to Wilsonville residents, with an emphasis on serving immigrants and People of Color. Beaverton's BOLD program is a best practice.
4. Continue to work on tax abatements and regulation/fee removal to make quality infill development and redevelopment a reality. This will be needed to realize the goals of HB 2001.
Don't put off school improvements
I support the bond and local option levy and am grateful for the foresight and fiscal planning of our school district.
The bond has been structured to bring improvements to our schools and students without raising our tax rate. We can support teachers, increase safety, add career and technical programs and much more and not increase our tax rate.
I feel the key is that if we don't make these investments now, we are merely kicking the can down the road and would face a much bigger bill with an increase in taxes in five years.
Our community is continuing to grow, and there currently is a lot of new construction in process with much more projected in the next five-plus years. We are fortunate that our district is cognizant of our tax rates and has kept them flat for the past 12-plus years.
If you look at neighboring districts like Sherwood or Lake Oswego, they have faced significant increases in taxes by not addressing facility needs as they occurred. By using the infrastructure already existing, the district is extending our investments and is doing more with less over time.
Yes for our schools this November
Our district is offering our community the right solution for addressing crowding in our high schools in the November bond measure.
If you have students in high school, you know our high schools are full (WHS) and crowded (WLHS). To summarize, WHS has a current capacity of 1,345, with a current enrollment of more than 1,200. Ten years from now, it is projected to have an enrollment of 1,886 students (586 students over capacity).
West Linn High School has a capacity of 1,730 and a current enrollment of over 1,940 students (210-plus over capacity). Ten years from now it has a projected enrollment of 1,955 students (225 over capacity).
These numbers tell us Wilsonville High School is at capacity and West Linn High School has been over capacity for several years.
Attendance numbers are projected to increase over the next 10 years. The new Arts and Technology High School will expand its enrollment from 100 students to 500 students. These 500 students will take the crowding pressure off WLHS
and WHS and ensure WLHS and WHS don't become mega-high schools.
Please join me in voting yes for our schools this November.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.