BEND, OR -- Changes to Bend’s charter could appear on the May ballot, but exactly how those measures will look is still up in the air. One revision we know go to voters: creating a partial ward system where four of six City Councilors would be elected based on where they live. City Manager Eric King says the Council failed to agree, this week, on how that would work. "I think ultimately there were very different views about wards. I think, general openness to exploring the issue. But, in terms of ‘do we have elections city-wide?’ So, somebody lives in the ward but everybody gets to vote? Or, is it just those in that ward that gets to vote for the Council. I think that seemed to divide Council. And so, because there just wasn’t agreement, those things just canceled each other out. And, ultimately it was a 7-0 vote not to proceed with the ward system."
King says staff are now working on ballot measure options for a directly elected Mayor and removing the mention of Council and Mayoral pay from the charter. He tells KBND News, "What needs to be really clear is that Council cannot vote in their own pay raise. So, if it does come out of the charter and voters do say yes to that, and Council then enacts an ordinance that sets that pay that’s from a recommendation from this independent citizen group, the adjustment wouldn’t take effect until the next election cycle." He adds, "We’ll be putting a resolution in front of them on January 17th; we’ll see where it goes there. February is about the deadline to get something on the ballot for May. So, more to come over the next couple of months, but we’re narrowing in on what the ask will be of the voters in May."
Also to appear on the May ballot for Bend residents and those inside the rural fire protection district, an extension of the current operating levy for Bend Fire. "The city of Bend provides all the fire and EMS services. It’s really a unique relationship that we have with this rural district so that the vote would take place both inside the city, as well as in the district; it’s that same rate," says King. The rural district's board had previously approved sending the property tax levy to its voters. If passed, the current rate of 20-cents per $1,000 of assessed property value would continue another five years.
To hear our full conversation with City Manager Eric King, visit our Podcast Page or click HERE.