BEND, OR -- Bend residents have a chance to voice their opinions on a possible local gas tax, during a public hearing with the City Council, Monday evening. Councilors are considering putting the issue on the March ballot.
Councilor Sally Russell says the City Council and a citizens group have spent a lot of time studying the possibility. "We're not making that decision by ourselves. We're actually sending this decision to the voters. This decision is whether or not to take a fuel tax and put it on the ballot and ask the community 'is street funding enough of a priority that you would be willing to pay 5-cents a gallon, 7-cents a gallon or 10-cents a gallon or whatever it ends up?' We still have to work through that."
She says the one thing they all can agree on: Something must be done to fund $80 million in needed street repairs. "Everyone came to the conclusion that something had to happen; that this city really truly couldn't, within it's existing income structure and streams, put enough money aside to address this problem that's accelerating and increasing every year." She adds, "I think that everyone thinks that this is a really good first step and that it's something that we absolutely have to do, and we all recognize that it's all part of the larger puzzle. There are some other strategies that I think we'll pursue to hopefully identify additional income streams that don't add on to utility bills or property tax bills; or, we may have to go there."
Tonight's public hearing begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall.