Monday, October 28, 2013

Will Property Tax Increases Impact the Local Option Levy Vote?

To All COLA LO Members,

It seems residents may be up in arms as they receive their annual property tax statements in the mail this week.   The Oregonian is reporting residents are receiving big surprises as taxes increase dramatically in some counties in the Portland area.   

The article Surprising Local Property Taxes discloses quite a few large increases around the area as residents continue to grapple with the "great recession" and stagnant incomes. 

 Many of the increases are due to voter approved tax levy issues like the local option in Lake Oswego Measure 3-434 but cover libraries, schools, etc.    It seems residents in Portland are just waking up to the actual cost of these voter approved taxes.  

The details in the online comments are quite insightful and show a growing resentment for the cost of the increases, even though they were voter approved!    Many are questioning the long term affordability of the region given the increased taxes on homeowners.   

Its an interesting level of insight into the mindset of voters and homeowners in the region.  

Please notify all members contacts and friends.   

Saturday, October 26, 2013

COLA Board Member Testifies on $1.7 million LED Lighting Project

To All COLA LO Members,

This past week Board Member Dave Luck testified before the city council asking it to delay any  LED conversion project.    Dave used his technical expertise in the renewable energy industry to  question the assumptions and cost savings presented by city staff.  

An article in the Oregonian prominently features Dave Luck's comments and the councils actions.   It can be found at Council Approves.  

The details of the decision were interesting as many members of the public testified against the project stating there were higher priorities.   Still the council approve the project and committed taxpayer funds to it.  

It will be interesting to see if the voters view this allocation of taxpayer funds differently in the Fall.   

Please notify all members, contacts, and friends.   

Thursday, October 24, 2013

City Council Decisions Creating a Renewed "Clackastani Rebellion" in Lake Oswego?

To All COLA LO Members,

COLA continues to receive quite a few comments from concerned citizens regarding city council decisions.   It seems a renewed level of concern is amassing in LO these days.    Its surprising given the results of the 2012 election and what many thought would be a "reform" council.   

Tuesday evening the council voted 4-2 to approve $1.7 million in funding for streetlights after staff disclosed they could not meet plans to improve streets.   Yet at the same time they have decided to widen streets generating a petition drive which will likely require a "special election".  Details can be found in a recent article Special Election Challenge.  

The council's decision to enter into an agreement with $5+ million in taxpayer funds to develop the Wizer block with high density residential rentals is now creating organized opposition to their position.  It seems the new group "save our village"   is gaining wide support in the community.  

Many in the city are now questioning if this council is meeting the promises it made during the 2012 and 2010 elections?   Will this have an impact on the 2014 election outcome?    We believe it will at this point, especially if residents continue to organize in opposition to the councils direction.   

Please notify all members, contacts, and friends....

Friday, October 18, 2013

Is the Wizer Block The New WEB?

To All COLA LO Members.

Over the past two Months residents have observed the city council deliberate and enter into an agreement to redevelop the Wizer block.    Debate hasn't been very spirited initially which surprised many given the size of the development and its potential impact on the downtown area.

 In large part this may be due to the absence of involvement by the very engaged groups on the west side of Lake Oswego which is the geographic center of LO.  

However after approval of the agreement and subsequent investment by the city of a whopping $5-6 million in taxpayer funds, it seems the downtown neighborhoods are waking up.   

A new group has formed called "save our village".   It appears they are engaging aggressively in opposition to the project.   Details can be found in Opposition to Wizer Block.  

Leaders of Save Our Village include Lita Schiel Grigg, Leslie Pirrotta and Tana Haynes.    it will be interesting to see if they can substantially impact the development or if its essentially a done deal as many perceive at this point with the city investing millions in funds.    

Many residents are now questioning the nature of this city council given they were elected as a "reform" council specifically to limit spending on high density urban renewal projects.   

Will these decisions have an impact on the 2014 election in only 13 months?  We think so but only time will tell.  

Please notify all members contacts and friends. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The White Elephant is Gone! Maybe?

To All COLA LO Members,

Last night after extensive discussion the LO City Council Voted 6-1 to Sell the West End Building to the Kensington Group for $16.5 million.    Thus taking the first step toward ending a flawed decision made by the Hammerstad administration over 7 years ago.   

After wasting nearly $ 9 million in taxpayer funds in operating costs and potentially another $4 million in selling at a price lower than the $20 million originally paid, this debacle may be coming to an end.   Its still far off but the step was taken to enter into a sales agreement last night.    Only Councilor Gustafson voted against selling the WEB.  

Easily the most divisive decision in city history, the purchase of the WEB outraged citizens when $20 million in debt was taken on without voter approval.    The building has remained largely empty and under used since purchased.    

The irony was even last night the council admitted they had no idea how they could use the building given the absence of support for paying off the debt with a bond measure throughout the community.  After 7 years the conclusion was that in the absence of a $40-130 million bond for a community center the purchase decision was deeply flawed.   

The council received testimony from one commercial broker who bid on the building against the city and told the council that at the peak of the market they valued the building at $16 million yet then Mayor Hammerstad bid on it at $20 million or a nearly $4 million premium to the experts opinion.  

Taxpayers will not be required to pay for that very poor decision once again.   Its hopefully the end of a very expensive lesson in real estate speculation by city officials.  

Some details can be found at:   Council Votes to Sell WEB?

Please notify all members, contacts, and friends.   

Friday, October 4, 2013

Lake Oswego No Longer the Wealthiest City In Clackamas County

To All COLA LO members,

This past week the Oregonian released some stunning information.    Despite many years of having a reputation for being the wealthiest city in the county, Lake Oswego is no longer that wealthy!   In fact it is no longer even in the top 3!  

Its a stunning admission of how far the relative incomes in the city have plunged over time.    It also explains why citizens are so irate over the cost of living and actions of local officials these past few years.  

Despite being the most educated community in the county, Lake Oswego now ranks FOURTH in terms of median household income in Clackamas County.     The details are found in the following Oregonian article No Longer the Wealthiest.  

West Linn actually has a higher median income than Lake Oswego according to the latest statistics.   No wonder residents were upset at the $5.1 million wealth transfer between Lake Oswego and West Linn to build the LO-Tigard Water Project. 

As one online comment stated:   "Congratulations Happy Valley, you're the new Lake Oswego."

Its clear that LO residents have been hard hit by the recession despite their relatively high education.   Its also clear that economic development efforts have not been successful in generating high paying jobs for LO residents.   

Overall these results may be the strongest indictment of the efforts of past administrations.  

Please notify all members, contacts, and friends.  
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