BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors are advancing plans to impose a transportation fee on utility bills. "We’ve done a lot of work putting the policy together. We have now a draft code; people can find that at BendOregon.gov/transportation-fee," says Mayor Melanie Kebler. The next step is to get public feedback on the draft before it’s finalized, "So, we will have two listening sessions this month that are on that page, that people can come to - not only to ask questions, but to give input about this policy."
Kebler tells KBND News the city's websit is the best place to learn about the proposal, "We have a full code people can look at. We’re going to present information going through that: Here’s what it does and here’s how it applies to people living in a residential home, here’s how it applies to non-residential businesses, which is going to be a different calculation for how that works; here’s how it applies to parks, here’s how it applies to schools. So all that information is available on our website."
She collecting money monthly on utility bills spreads out the burden for residential and business properties, "What we’re looking at, on the residential side, is about $5.50 for a single family home and less than that for multi family." Commercial properties would also be billed according to square footage. It would likely be phased in over three years, generating an estimated $5 million the first year, $10 million the second and $15 million the third.
City officials have said the fee is necessary to bridge a funding gap. A 2020 bond only pays for new projects. "The counterpart to that, and the funding plan that was put together, was money that’s sustainable for operations and maintenance," says Kebler, "So we can keep up with the need to plow and sweep; that we can keep up with filling in missing sidewalks and developing better intersections that flow better, and developing better, safer ways for people to get around town without a car."
Listening sessions are scheduled for February 26th, 4:30-6:30 p.m. and February 29th, 9:30-11:30 a.m. Both are at City Hall, with a hybrid option. Click HERE for more information.
Council will then discuss the feedback at a work session on March 6th. If approved, the fee would start appearing on utility bills after July first.