BEND, OR -- With about two weeks before Bend voters make the final decision on a local gas tax, rumors are swirling about the city budget, and why officials can’t come up with the funds needed to fix ailing roads.
City Manager Eric King says 75% of the city’s budget is restricted and can’t be diverted to pay for street repairs. "I can’t take the water/sewer bill that you’re paying and use that to fund streets or fund police officers. Where Council has the most discretion is our General Fund; that’s about 1/3 of the revenue the city receives. Most of that are property taxes. Voters restricted the growth in those property taxes in the late 90s, so there’s a restricted pot to work with." He adds, "We had a citizen committee look at the target of where the streets are and how to get them improved. We’re at a 68 on a scale of 0-100 and the goal is to get to 73; five PCI points in five years."
King tells KBND News rumors are true that several departments received budget increases, this year. "Over 90% of the expenditures in the general fund are police, fire and streets. For fire, there was a $2.7 million increase, that’s 13%; police got $2.5 million, that’s a 6% increase; and, this is really important, streets received $4.8 million more, that’s an 88% increase." But, he says it's not enough, "The requirement needed to improve streets is $6 million more per year. So, that 88% increase helps get us there, it got us about $3.3 million of the $6 million, but there was still a gap." According to King, street maintenance budgets took big hits during the recession, as the city tried to provide stable funding to maintain staffing for the police and fire departments.
King will present an overview of city finances Monday, February 29 at City Hall, at 6 p.m. Hear our full conversation with City Manager Eric King HERE
or at our Podcast Page