BEND, OR -- After hearing nothing but support at Monday night’s public hearing, the Bend City Council began working out details of a proposed local gas tax to help fund street improvements. Five people testified at the public hearing, all in favor of a local gas tax. The city is looking for about $2.7 million a year to help address overdue road maintenance.
Much of the discussion following the public hearing addressed limiting the length of the tax and how much it would be. Councilor Doug Knight said, “The responsible thing to do is to actually have a sunset clause, in the form of a reauthorization. How many years would you think? I think 10 years or something.” In general, Councilors agreed with that 10-year sunset, or reauthorization. They also agreed to address a tax of 10-cents a gallon.
Sending the proposal to voters in March would cost taxpayers $60,000 to $70,000; however, if they wait for the May ballot, it would cost nothing. Councilor Doug Knight argued for March. “This is an unfunded liability and a resource that only degrades as time moved forward. Then you’re going to want to sign contracts as soon as possible. You’re going to want to capture the primary paving season.” It was acknowledged there will likely be organized opposition, and a free election could be more palatable to voters.
The City Council is expected to make a final decision Wednesday.