Time for a Pay-as-We-Grow Plan | The Wandering Eye | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon
The Source Weekly’s reporting is made possible by the power of your support. Be a part of it!
Pin It

Time for a Pay-as-We-Grow Plan 

Last week, like all Deschutes County property owners, I received the most depressing piece of mail of the year: my annual tax bill.

This morning The Bulletin had more depressing news. “Bend residents may face new taxes,” the big black headline said.

It’s the familiar story: Now that the real estate bubble has popped, the city isn’t taking in enough tax dollars to pay for essential services. The city staff is projecting a shortfall of up to $12 million in the general fund over the next five years.

City Finance Director Sonia Andrews said the fundamental problem is that Bend’s permanent tax rate – $2.80 per $1,000 of assessed value – is too low for a city of Bend’s size.

“Part of the problem with Bend is that our property tax rate has never been sufficient to cover the basic services we need to provide,” Andrews was quoted as saying. “[A rate of] $2.80 has never been adequate, but we lived off of that $2.80 because we had phenomenal growth in our tax base, so that kind of bailed us out for the last five to seven years. But when the growth disappears, you’re faced with the reality of the $2.80 being inadequate to begin with.” (Emphasis added)

Translation: “We knew the tax rate was too low, but we got around that little problem by encouraging runaway growth, assuming the good times would just keep rolling forever. But then – who could have imagined it? – the growth stopped, and we were really screwed because a tax rate that was inadequate for a city of 30,000 is even more inadequate for a city of 80,000.”

Looking at it another way, the city did the same thing that many foolish home owners did during the bubble – it speculated on the (assumed) future increase in its equity (the tax base) to cover the gap between its income and its current expenses.

The city council is in a quandary: They don’t want to ask the taxpayers for a tax increase, but if they don’t the city will have to lay off more workers. Naturally they’re trying to inject the fear factor, threatening to cut the police and fire departments if the taxpayers don’t pony up.

Frankly, I can’t see any way the city can climb out of the hole it’s dug for itself without raising taxes or cutting services to the bone (and beyond) or both.

But it would provide some consolation to me and my fellow taxpayers if the city adopted, and stuck to, a pay-as-you-grow policy – not giving the green light to new development until it was sure it had the money to pay for the services and infrastructure it will demand.

Pin It

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

Today | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue
Eric Leadbetter Duo @ Crosscut - Warming Hut No. 5

Eric Leadbetter Duo @ Crosscut - Warming Hut No. 5 - Crosscut Warming Hut No 5

Wed., May 25, 6-8 p.m.
Submitting an event is free and easy.

Newsletter Signup

Get Central Oregon daily news
directly in your inbox

Get Social

Latest in The Wandering Eye

  • Moonshine Magic in Bend Still on the Down Low

    • Aug 9, 2012
    Get ready for our great close-up on the home distilling community out next week in our "Best of" issue. We interviewed a mixed bag of legal and anarchist distillers in Bend to find out why distilling is so very, very against the law in one's home. More »
  • The Eye Wanders Off Into the Sunset

    • Dec 26, 2010
    I’m really sorry to break the bad news to them during this season of peace and goodwill, but after this week the right-wingers in Bend and vicinity won’t have The Wandering Eye to kick around anymore. The decision to stop writing this blog was my own, and it was prompted by several factors. More »
  • DADT, Gay-Bashing and the "Icky-ness" Factor

    • Dec 19, 2010
    For the past week or so, “Zeo” of the NW Republican blog has had his jock strap in a knot over the prospect of Congress repealing the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” rule. To hear Zeo tell it, if DADT is repealed and gays are allowed to serve openly in the US military it will mean the end not only of our armed forces but of America, its economic system and civilization in general. More »
  • More »

More by The Source Staff

Want to advertise with us?

For info on print and digital advertising, >> Click Here

© 2022 LAY IT OUT INC | 704 NW GEORGIA AVE, BEND, OREGON 97703  |   Privacy Policy

Website powered by Foundation