BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors made some headway in finding needed money to fund road repairs, following last month's defeat of a local gas tax. They spent more than four hours combing through the budget to find nearly $760,000 of the nearly $1.3 million they're trying to put toward roads. A majority agreed not to pull from the law enforcement budget.
Councilor Sally Russell tells KBND News, "It's a really hard conversation. We found probably just over half of what we should really have. The finally proposal was actually to pull from our reserves to fund the gap. Boy, I don’t know that we agree that that’s what reserves should really be used for." She says pulling from the transient room tax is not enough. "Yes, they are growing, but they’re not growing nearly quickly enough to even begin to scratch the surface of what we as a community have to invest in our roads to just stabilize them."
Councilor Victor Chudowsky has proposed dipping into reserves and using more room tax money to get through 2017. "What we’re doing now is we’re passing the budget we really should’ve passed. The argument was for $5 million, the extra money from a gas tax. And, what we’ve learned from this meeting is that’s clearly not true. We’re looking now, basically, at about $300,000 to $500,000 to plug this gap for streets." He tells KBND News, "We have more than enough money for this fiscal year. Now, we’re down to a very small gap for next year. And, moving forward, revenue growth will be strong enough to cover streets in the future. Basically, what it shows today is that a gas tax was not necessary."
Councilors will meet again April 27 to make more cuts.