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» Albany street bond? Not now, council says

HASSO HERING

A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Albany street bond? Not now, council says

Written October 14th, 2019 by Hasso Hering

Looking east on Ninth Avenue, one of six Albany street segments listed for possible reconstruction.

Sections of six main streets have been been proposed for reconstruction if Albany voters approve a general-obligation bond issue. But expecting to ask voters for other fee or tax increases in 2020, the city council has put off for now any consideration of a street bond.

The bond question came up before the council in August and again last week. Nothing was decided, except to postpone any decision indefinitely. Councilors did say that if and when a street bond is considered, it should include enough money to replace water and sewer lines in addition to the pavement.

In May 2020, Albany voters likely will be asked either to renew (a year before it expires) a special five-year tax levy for police and fire protection at the present rate of $1.15 per thousand dollars of taxable value, or to raise the rate by 10 or 20 cents. Mayor Sharon Konopa prefers renewing it at the same rate, with less need for a campaign, but is pushing for a monthly utility fee to augment funding of police, fire and maybe other programs. But a majority of councilors have said or hinted they would not approve a fee on their own, without the voters’ OK.

With all that going on, the council was in no mood to ask voters to approve a street bond, which would raise property taxes anywhere from 23 to 36 cents per thousand.

The streets proposed by the public works staff to be reconstructed are segments of six arterial or collector streets, totaling nearly two miles: Third Avenue from Vine to Washington Street, Ninth from Elm to Washington, one-block Albany Avenue, and three streets in the city’s central shopping area: 14th Avenue from Geary to Waverly, Clay from 14th to Santiam Highway, and Waverly from Santiam to Queen.

Councilor Bessie Johnson thought the selection “odd.” Indeed, to the casual observer, those segments don’t appear to be in urgent need of reconstruction. The exception is Ninth, where broken pavement is plain to see.

Depending on various options — whether to add the water and sewer work, and whether to leave out Third or both Third and Ninth — the city staff estimated the amount of the proposed bond issue to range from $16 million to more than $25 million.

Chances are the cost estimates and proposed bond amounts will have changed if the council ever decides to put a package of street projects on the ballot. When that might be, nobody knows. All we know is that it won’t be now. (hh)

Except for the cracks filled with tar, the pavement on 14th Avenue looks pretty good.

 

 

 

 

 



11 responses to “Albany street bond? Not now, council says”

  1. Richard Kay says:

    Try driving down Fir Oaks Dr SW [off 29th SW] It is one of the main arterials into the Fir Oaks Subdivision [Liberty being the other one]. It is worse than a cobblestone street, with large sections of blacktop missing and piece-worked pot hole repairs and large cracks for the entire block. The homes in this area have a much higher tax base and a worse road than most listed in your article.

    • Anon says:

      Such a shame that the city spends money on making downtown pretty while they let our roads turn to rubble. Now they are going to hit the citizens up for more money despite the downtown spending largess and an expensive new police station that is twice the size they need. Good luck with that.

  2. C. Jeffery Evans, AICP says:

    It will also require that sidewalks be renovated to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. THIS is the real reason the Council doesn’t want to tackle this problem.

  3. Terry Fuston says:

    4th street from main to downtown is horrible as well as 26th from Geary to Hill. Bain needs work as well as South Shore.

  4. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    I wish the city acted more like the county when it comes to street maintenance: plan and adequately fund . The city’s approach is tax/fee and spend. Sad.

    You mention that the police/fire levy will likely be put on the ballot a year early.

    The last time this happened you raised a good issue: voters authorizing a replacement levy without at the same time rescinding the existing levy.

    Your question was a good one: Would the city allow the tax to be levied twice in the same year?

    And I’d ask another question: Anticipating a city denial to your question, why does the city even leave the possibility of a double levy open?

    On the previous levy I voted NO because the city attorney only gave a verbal denial to your question. The ballot language needs to make clear that the existing levy will be immediately rescinded upon approval of the new levy.

  5. Jim Engel says:

    It’s a shame that the CARA board sits on it’s collective derriere on a mountain of taxpayers cash & twiddles it’s thumbs. All the while streets within it’s power & gaze crumble. Like 3rd, 4th, 5th. No bond necessary, just open the till!

  6. Ray Kopczynski says:

    I believe many folks offering their opinions here have no real grounding in the basics of city street repair. Start here: https://www.cityofalbany.net/streets Watch the five short videos – then dive into the minutia [“Learn more…” on same page] if you seriously want to get educated vs. making off-the-cuff ramblings.

  7. Marilyn Smith says:

    Thanks for the opportunity to direct your readers to more information about the City of Albany’s plans for taking care of our streets. Five short videos discussing streets and their maintenance are available on the City website, YouTube, and Comcast Channels 23 and 28: https://www.cityofalbany.net/streets. The City’s 5-year capital improvement program is also on the website and includes a comprehensive list of planned and needed street improvements: https://www.cityofalbany.net/cip The current 2020-2024 CIP addresses street maintenance on p. 12; accessibility on pp. 15-18; the transportation system as a whole on pp. 29-47, including a list of $13.5 million in projects that are scheduled to be built in the next five years and how they are funded; and needed but unfunded projects on pp.48-53. The unfunded list totals $247 million in 2019 dollars.

  8. thomas cordier says:

    With all the effort and money trying to preserve historic areas I suggest we just let the streets turn to gravel like yesterday. Great historic benefits will draw tourists to the old merry-go-round. Europe has cobblestone street for the historic benefit. Ms. Mayor wants the old-town Europe look; so let’s go for it.

  9. Lundy says:

    I don’t spend nearly as much time in Albany as I once did, but as a Linn County resident who hits the county hinterlands with some regularity, I can attest that the county road department does an excellent job of keeping our many (and very scenic) roadways in terrific working order.

  10. russell tripp says:

    Madison st is in bad need. They should prioritize the streets in need by the level of usage they incur.

 

 
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