BEND, OR -- After a number of goal-setting sessions in the past month, Bend City Councilors have identified their top priorities, which will help develop the next budget. City Manager Eric King says they’ve zeroed in on five main goals, including executing a growth plan, improving transportation options – both in road maintenance and relieving congestion – and increasing affordable housing. "And then, public safety: we want to make sure we spotlight some of the innovation that’s occurring – different service models, more cost effective service models. And then, lastly, governance: really modernizing, professionalizing our city government, including looking at our charter review. Is it time, as Bend has grown to 90,000 or so, to look at a different system where it’s a directly elected Mayor."
He tells KBND News Councilors will look at the best ways to achieve their goals and address the city’s needs with limited funding and without raising revenue. "The approach is really going to be move forward on some key projects and get them teed up and really get them ripe for public-private partnerships. Bend has a history of doing that on the west side. The Westside Consortium, which was developers got together and worked with the city to construct a lot of that infrastructure, back 15 years or so ago. We need to do that same approach. So, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the city needs to put in all the funding; there’s growth happening, and how do we leverage that growth to get the infrastructure that we need?" King adds, "It’s just about how we leverage the existing funding that we have. I think the transportation discussion – we’re going to get creative with public-private partnerships, but that’s still a big community conversation around a transportation vision for Bend and how do we pay for that? And, that’s a multi-year conversation."
A series of public meetings will be held in May to gather more feedback before the 2017-19 budget is finalized in June. To listen to our full conversation with Bend City Manager Eric King, visit our Podcast Page or click HERE.