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Letter to the editor: Sky’s not falling

To the editor:

The folks at City Hall want us to believe that the sky will fall unless we increase taxes to improve our roads. We need more money, says our city manager, because, according to him, past city councils failed to address problem. Nice toss under the bus.

For me, Councilor Carolyn Wood summed up City Hall’s tax-and-spend mentality when she said in last year’s Chronicle, “If the people vote it [tax increase] down and keep voting it down and keep voting it down, they don’t have anything to complain about when they have bad roads.” This “let them eat cake” attitude just about sums up the council’s indifference to our needs and their inability to problem-solve. Let’s not look at how money is being spent or if it can be spent more wisely, let’s just raise taxes. Thankfully, Wood is up for re-election.

Before you fall for this “we need more money” for roads argument, carefully consider the following:

The Dalles is the only major city in Eastern Oregon with a city gas tax.

Some other major cities in Eastern Oregon appear to maintain their roads primarily on money received from the City State Highway allocation. Hermiston, for example, provided the following comment in a recent budget document: “With continuing strong income from the City’s State Highway Fund, the Street Fund remains self-sufficient with funding available for a well-managed annual streets maintenance program.” Pendleton made a similar comment in its budget.

But for this voter, the following is the most disturbing fact: Hermiston, Eastern Oregon’s largest and, I believe, fastest-growing city (population 17,000; 71 miles of roads) has a budget this fiscal year of $47 million, which is $4.5 million lower than last year’s budget. In stark contrast.

The Dalles (population 14,500; 88 miles of roads of which over 15 miles are maintained by Wasco County) has a budget of $58 million, which is $5 million more than last year. What is wrong with this picture?

City Councilor Miller, together with Mayor Lawrence and sometimes City Councilor McGlothlin, have been the only consistent voices demanding accountability and fiscal responsibility.

Come this November, we need to help these folks out by replacing City Councilors Carolyn Wood and Bill Dick with citizens who care about us and will hold bureaucrats accountable. For me that will be Tanner Elliott and Russ Brown.

John Hutchison

The Dalles

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