Sunday, December 12, 2010

Mary Olson LO City Councilor against Clackamas County tax on LO residents

To all Members,

Councilor Mary Olson clearly identifies the facts of the LO City Council.
here is a reprint:

December 8, 2010
To: Clackamas County Board of Commissioners
From: Mary Olson, Councilor, City of Lake Oswego

Testimony against increasing the vehicle registration fee without a vote of the people
The purpose of my testimony is to clarify previous testimony by Councilor Donna Jordan at your public hearing two weeks ago on Nov. 24, 2010. As background, two days before Thanksgiving (the day before your public hearing) Lake Oswego Mayor Jack Hoffman called Councilor Jordan from China to ask her to take a poll of the council on supporting the Vehicle Registration fee increase, and then testify at your hearing. We have never discussed this as a Council and have never had a vote on supporting the fee.

When Councilor Jordan called me, I expressed reservations about this fee being a foot in the door to future fee increases to be used for other projects. Because I fear a disaster occurring on the Sellwood Bridge, due to the negligence of the responsible jurisdictions, I said I could support it if it were to have sunset clause, and never be increased, and only be used for the Sellwood Bridge project. Councilor Jordan assured me that she would express my caveats to you in her testimony, but I don’t think she did.

However, in thinking about this proposed fee increase further, and researching it more thoroughly, I have come to the conclusion that it is not appropriate for the following reasons:

1. It is a dangerous precedent to start cross-jurisdictional funding of projects. This is a slippery slope, and where would it stop? Will we be asked to pay for the St. John’s Bridge repairs in the future? Do people from Portland or Mult. Co. pay for the Canby Ferry? Of course not. The Sellwood Bridge is the responsibility of Multnomah County. Period. The talk about 70% of the trips being from or to Clackamas Co. is a red herring. You could use arguments like that all over the Metro region to justify anything.

2. This should be put out for a vote of the people. Just because former speaker Dave Hunt got legislation passed that allows this county to circumvent a vote on Vehicle Reg. fee increases, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a vote. If this is a priority for our county’s citizens, let them vote.

3. This is not about the Sellwood Bridge. This is about a new revenue stream for Clackamas County by means of what is essentially a new tax without a vote. There is a plan formulated by Chair Peterson and the cities in Clackamas Co. to further increase this fee in three years and split it up on projects between the county and cities.

4. The Sellwood Bridge “problem” exists because of a lack of priority-setting by the responsible agencies. It is not because there is not enough money, it is because the money is being spent on other things. We are building bridges for light rail and streetcar projects while the Sellwood crumbles.
For these reasons I cannot support this proposed increase to the Vehicle Registration Fee. Thank you for letting me provide input.

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