After being delayed by the pandemic, a $190 million transportation bond is officially going to be back on the ballot this fall.
On Wednesday, the Bend City Council voted 5-2 to put the bond before voters in the general election. Originally, the council voted unanimously to put the bond on the May ballot, but took it off in March after the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic became clear.
The bond, which has been in the works for more than two years, includes dozens of projects aimed at easing traffic congestion, improving safety and connecting east and west Bend.
To allow some time for the economy to recover from the financial impacts of COVID-19, the council decided that if the bond passes, the first tax increase would be delayed until the fall of 2022.
Despite the fact the economy is in a recession, a majority of the council felt the projects in the bond were too important to push off, and that Bend is already behind when it comes to keeping up a transportation system that can support the rate of population growth.
It also took two years to negotiate the list of projects, which everyone on the council agrees has a balance of car-focused and bike and pedestrian-focused projects. There is a fear that this consensus would be lost and a new council in January could want to start on a new list of projects from scratch.
“I believe the balance is really solid,” Councilor Chris Piper said Wednesday. “I feel that if we don’t do this this year we’re going to be backed up, and it’s going to be another three or four or five years before we can build another balanced plan we have already.”
Poor economic conditions were enough, however, to sway Councilors Justin Livingston and Bill Moseley to vote against the transportation bond.
“I think the timing isn’t right, and I don’t really see any downside to waiting,” Livingston said.
Over the 10-year span on the bond, the average cost to the homeowner’s property taxes would be $170 a year. Initially, however, the annual estimated cost for the average homeowner is $30 in 2022 and $119 in 2024, according to city documents.
More information about the specific projects listed in the bond are listed on the city’s website.