BEND, OR -- After threatening to pull out of street maintenance funding talks if a citizen committee didn’t consider alternatives to a gas tax, Bend 2030 now says it strongly supports a local tax. In advance of Monday night’s special City Council meeting, the group presented a letter to Councilors, expressing support of a tax and the work done by the Street Maintenance Funding Committee. Erin Foote Marlowe tells KBND News, "Bend 2030’s Board of Directors has, after reviewing all this information, going through the Streets Funding Committee process, found that if we are going to come up with the $6-7 million a year that we need to fund street preservation, we need something – a consistent revenue source like a fuel tax. And Bend 2030’s board of directors is saying we support a fuel tax."
Read more about Bend 2030's studies on how to fund road maitenance.
Foote Marlowe says the group was never opposed to a tax, they simply wanted to make sure every possibility was considered. "The committee came up with a variety of ways to fund road improvements and multi-modal projects. And, that was our goal. Bend 2030 wanted the council to see there are lots of options, and it needs to be a package of funding sources."
She says there is still a lot of work to be done, before any roadwork can start. "The council has an awful lot to consider and we felt it was important for us to share with them and highlight that the thousands of people Bend 2030 has engaged this year on this question, the fuel tax is really the highest valued option for funding improvements to the road system. Politically, it is a challenge to ask voters to pass a tax."
Councilors must decide by December second whether to put the issue to voters in March. "By putting it on the ballot in March, it allows us to find funding for construction projects within the 2016 season. If we were to wait until later in the year, it would make it more difficult to fund some of the projects the city would like to get started on right away to stop the bleeding of the roads system," says Foote Marlowe. At Monday's special meeting
, City Councilors chose to schedule a public hearing prior to that December deadline. That public hearing will be held at 6 p.m. on November 30.