As of Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Two public hearings on the proposed Wasco County road taxing district are set for Aug. 6 and Aug. 11 in The Dalles and Dufur respectively.
The first will take place at 5:30 p.m. in room 301 of the Wasco County Courthouse in The Dalles, while the second will be in the Dufur School cafeteria, also at 5:30 p.m.
Road department officials cite significant increases in the cost of materials and the elimination of federal funding that once paid for half of the county’s road budget as the basis for their request. To address the funding shortage, the county is considering a permanent property tax levy of $2.03 per thousand dollars of assessed property valuation.
“We’re just moving forward with the process,” Commissioner Rod Runyon said. “Ultimately, we’ll either decide to go forward with the proposed plan for the district, or change it or even not go forward with it. What we hope to get out of these hearings is the public’s thoughts on the issue.”
South county citizens present at the first public hearing held in Maupin July 16 expressed a number of concerns, including that within the new district, only property owners, a small portion of drivers, would be required to pay taxes on roads the entire county uses.
Others doubted they could afford to pay the rate and keep their property, although most agreed the maintenance of county roads was a high-priority issue that should not be ignored.
Marty Matherly, director of Public Works, said roads would continue to deteriorate, and that the longer the county waited to address the road department’s lack of funding, the worse their condition would become and the more costly future repairs would be.
Several citizens at the hearing agreed there needed to be a “broader solution” to the road department’s funding shortage than what is currently proposed. One of their suggestions was to spread the financial burden more evenly amongst the general driving population.
Runyon and his fellow commissioners encouraged citizens to attend the public hearings to voice their opinions before final decisions are made.
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