Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Bend cares about infrastructure?

Shouldn't Bend get in shape
 before buying bigger pants?
Apparently, some city councilors, in a goal-setting session on Friday, believe infrastructure is at least worth talking about.

Of course, they talked about it last year and presumably, in the years before that.

Talk is cheap, though.

In the meantime, councilors voted to jack up water and sewer rates at three to four times the rate of inflation. And, the city plans on double-digit increase in those rates for the next several years.

What do we get for that? Not much.

Plus, the city started collecting an annual $48 storm drainage fee from every household. Bend has no storm-drainage system and won't anytime soon. The money goes to clear out catch basins when they clog up.

If the city really cared about infrastructure it would do a few things:

1) Ask more from developers, who pay a fraction of their impact on Bend's infrastructure, to contribute more.

2) Include developers in the storm-drainage funding equation. There should be an impact fee or SDC for storm drains on every new home constructed.

3) The city whiffed when given the chance a couple of years ago to impose a gas tax in the city. Huge mistake. Bend is a tourist destination with no sales tax and it made perfect sense to enact 3 cent-a-gallon gas tax. We would still have cheaper gas than in most of the state and in California and Washington. Here's hoping that someday we'll have councilors with common sense to pass this road-fixing tax.

On the brighter side of the council's goal-setting session was the idea that maybe the city should slow down its pursuit of expanding the urban growth boundary (UGB). Ya think?

Bend has wasted $4 million of taxpayers' money trying to figure out how to expand the UGB at a time when it cannot adequately provide basic infrastructure, including sewer to half the households, within the current city limits. It's a no brainer.

Fix what you have before adding more land that would only increase the problems you have with roads, sewer, water, storm drains, etc.

But, the builders' union will win the day and the citizens of the city will be the losers.

In other words, they'll kill the goose that laid the golden egg which Bend calls its "quality of life."

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