A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

More talk about street money

Written November 29th, 2017 by Hasso Hering

The festive look outdoors notwithstanding, inside City Hall there was talk Wednesday of raising money for something as mundane as street maintenance.

The Albany City Council has not forgotten about street repairs. Once again on Wednesday the members talked about ways of getting people to pay more so streets could be properly maintained.

So far it’s still just talk. But, likely as not, in the coming weeks a majority of four on the seven-member council may settle on one or more potential sources of additional cash and try, if required, to get voters to agree.

What about the money they have, you may ask. The plain fact is that it’s not enough, even with additional gas tax revenue coming from the state’s rising gas tax approved by the legislature this year. Public Works has told the council the city needs a one-time shot of $20 million to catch up with street maintenance needs, plus about $3.4 million annually for ongoing work.

The options the council is weighing are collecting a “street utility tax” like the storm water or rain tax that took effect this year; or raising the said rain tax; or bumping up the city surcharge on sewer and water rates from 5 to 7 percent; or getting voters to approve a general obligation bond issue; or forming various “local improvement districts” that would impose assessments on affected properties; or having voters pass a local gas tax; or a combination of some or all of the above.

The council members have been mulling these choices for a while. One new idea Wednesday came from Councilman Ray Kopczynski. Why not use urban renewal dollars borrowed by the Central Albany Revitalization Area to repave residential streets within the CARA district that need it? (CARA already is funding the $8.5 million project to redo and beautify about two dozen blocks of commercial streets downtown.)

Mayor Sharon Konopa, though, wants to try for a gas tax first. She suggested an election as part of the May primary because a November election would be crowded with other issues. But Councilor Bill Coburn thought May 2018 would not leave nearly enough time to prepare for an election.

No decisions were made on Wednesday, except that it would be a good idea to start an “outreach” effort to let the public know about the need for more money for streets. (hh)

8 responses to “More talk about street money”

  1. ron says:

    Toll road coming into Albany. Lots of traffic coming into Albany.

  2. Ray Kopczynski says:

    Actually, it is not a “new idea.” I floated it back in the March meeting — thinking it would generate some conversation. Zero, zip, nada. Rather than making hard choices, we have a penchant for kicking the can down the road…

  3. Tony White says:

    What was that you were saying about a new travel center coming to Millersburg?

  4. P. Young says:

    “Oh Monty, Monty, Monty – I want what’s behind Door Number 3.”
    Thanks Jimmy Buffett.

  5. James Engel says:

    Wait a minute there H.H. Has that “storm water” tax just become another source of revenue & not “banked” in an untouchable account! So where is the plan for building facilities that was claimed as urgently needed for EPA requirements for saddling us with said tax in the first place?

  6. Bill Higby says:

    Our current city council should not be faulted too much, the streets in Albany have been failing for many years. 38th St. SE has been failing for years. Prior management and council just shoved the problem into the future much like the issue with pensions. Unfortunately for the current council and city management the failing streets are their problem now. A gas tax has about a zero chance of success with our citizens given the new bonds for police, fire, schools. All needed but guess what, as we bounce down the rutted streets in our neighborhood we do not feel real good about more taxes.

  7. Mary Brock says:

    CARA is here to stay. That is what I am told by the mayor….it won’t even go away in 2026. It will never go away because the loans they float, by using as collateral future increased taxes in the CARA district, will never be paid off…not in my lifetime.
    So, yes, CARA should redo all the streets in their district which is a big district. It stretches clear to Crabtree Auto Repair on Hill Street…I know that much.

    No to more bond measures and no to more new taxes!!!!

  8. Robert Chandler says:

    Is Albany putting the cart before the horse so to speak? We all have great personal hopes and aspirations but we all have to live within our means. You don’t go out and buy a Cadillac when all you can afford is a second hand car. Good things need time and patience and planning. Albany is not doing this. The city is spending more than what they have so where is this taking us? Just stop and think about the future of Albany and where it is going now. Albany needs new leadership with a solid long term goal of bringing the city back to where it should be without sticking both hands into the pocket of the people who call this home.


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