Monday April 11th the Corvallis City Club hosted a forum on the proposed tax Levy, measure 02-74, scheduled for a vote on May 17, 2011. John Detweiler, statistician and former candidate for Corvallis City Council presented the case for voting no on Measure 02-74. Karyle Butcher, Corvallis Budget Commission member and retired Oregon State University Librarian, presented the case for voting yes on Measure 02-74.
Nick Houtman, City Club Board, expressed to the audience that "the Corvallis City Club is a place for civil conversation about difficult topics."
The audience was comprised of business people, City Staff & concerned citizens (some from Friends of Corvallis). Evidently most in the audience had strong sentiments one way or the other relative to measure 02-74.
Both Mr. Detweiler and Ms. Butcher presented their points without fanfare. John Detweiler used a powerpoint presentation that was often difficult to read and understand. John is brillant at statistics but lacks communication skills. John made the point that if this Levy passed the funds would be channeled to the items of lowest priority. These include the Osborn Aquatic Center and the Corvallis Senior Center. This newspaper has previously been told by City Council President Mark O'Brien that the City of Corvallis currently subsidizes the operation of Osborn Aquatic Center $700,000 per year.
John Detweiler thought the important parts of Corvallis City Government dealt with Public Safety, Police and Fire protection. Ms. Butcher agreed with this and included the Aquatic Center and Library as essential to the Corvallis quality of life.
The largest portion of the proceeds from a successful levy would go to restore full services ( restore Sunday and evening hours) to the Corvallis Public Library. This equates to approximately 54% of the proceeds , about $1 million plus dollars. Another approximate 23% of the funds from the Tax Levy would go to the Osborn Aquatic Center and just under 17% would go to fund the Corvallis Senior Center. The remaining Tax levy proceeds , about 6-7% would go to Social Services. Just thinking, Social Service funding is on the wrong end of this dynamic. Should the Osborn Aquatic Center be subsidized some $700,000 plus another 17% from the tax levy while Social Services gets the short shrift as it were?
Karyle Butcher, Corvallis Budget Commission member, was unabashedly in favor of the Tax Levy proposal, measure 02-74. Ms. Butcher said, " the passage of this levy will buy the City of Corvallis time to deal with the structural issue of salary and benefit costs."
What went unstated until pointed out by audience member Raleigh Baxter is that Corvallis City leaders have essentially abrogated their fiduciary responsiblities these past several years. Mr. Baxter made the point that Corvallis ,as recently as three years ago, had a ten million dollar surplus. Baxter also expressed the thought that City employees should begin to pick up some of the cost of their benefit packages.
Barbara Ross, also a Corvallis Budget Commission member, asked should the tax Levy pass would the tax rate in Corvallis be higher than other cities in Oregon of comparable size? Nancy Brewer, Corvallis Finance Director, who clearly stated she was on lunch and also on vacation, responded that Corvallis was essentially in the middle of the pack with regard to taxes when compared to comparable cities in Oregon.
Another Corvallis City Council member, Bif Traber, expressed the current position of Council, and one of the current goals of Council, is to bring into balance personnel costs and revenue. The current trend is about three percent annual revenue growth and about six percent annual increase in personnel costs. Clearly unsustainable as expressed by Traber and by John Detweiler.
John Detweiler in his opening remarks cogently pointed out that the median income in Benton County has dropped $10,000 in the last several years. This in Detweilers view does not justify adding extra financial burdens to Corvallis homeowners and renters. Detweiler made the point that "maybe it is time to cut services?"
Barbara Bull, Corvallis Budget Commission member, from the audience made the case that last year the City of Corvallis had a "Transition Budget that failed." Bull also stated that she "was not for the amount of the tax levy."
Jim Bochner, Alternative Business Solutions, expressed concern that disproportionate taxes would mean no new business and no new jobs in Corvallis.
The discourse throughout the 90 minute session was civil, lively, partisan, protracted and unresolved: to be continued until voters make their decision on measure 02-74 on May 17, 2011.
Tue Apr 12, 2011 6:42 am Name: Daniel | Comment: The City of Corvallis needs to get the wakeup call. Residents are in need of relief from taxes, not have higher taxes. Maybe City Council and the Mayor should visit the grocery store and see what things cost! Perhaps the users of the Osborn Aquatic Center should open their pocketbooks and pay their way. Include the Osborn Aquatic team in there also. How about the 2% COLA from last year that was given to Corvallis City employees being returned to the City! It is frustrating to listen and read of those Corvallis residents that speak of quality of life being so wonderful in Corvallis, it certainly is if one is a Corvallis City employee.
Sun May 15, 2011 10:37 am Name: Jeremy | Comment: When I first moved to Corvallis my street flooded and water was creeping toward my foundation. I called the city several times, and each time they arrived with their pump truck within 10 minutes or less of my call. The service was nothing less than extraordinary. The following year the city installed new storm sewers and I haven't had a problem since.
Our library is among the finest for a city our size in the entire country. The Chntimini Senior Center serves an age group that has been most impacted by our ongoing recession and rising food and gasoline prices.
Perhaps Daniel has never been to Osborne or he would know that everyone pays an admission fee. Fees are charged for classes, lockers and towels.
Perhaps Daniel doesn't realize that as the cost of food and gasoline has risen, so have the costs of maintaining city services. Directing anger at public sector employees for rising prices defies any logic.
The city employees I have encountered have all been hard working, courteous, and deserving of any pay raise given them. If we don't vote yes on 02-74, we will be putting some of these wonderful people out of a job.
Relief from taxes? 0.45% on $1,000 of assessed value is $90 a year for me. That equals $7.50 a month, about half of what I pay for toilet paper over that same time frame. I for one am willing to pay more to maintain great service from wonderful people.
Sat Aug 11, 2012 5:26 am Name: Chris Minogue Comment: When is the next meeting of the Corvallis City Club? Are meetings open to anyone or only to membership? Sat Aug 11, 2012 11:48 am
The next meeting of the City Club of Corvallis will be Monday, September 10th. The meeting begins at 12 noon in the Banquet Room at the Renaissance Building, 136 SW Washington St. As always, attendance is free. Lunch is $10 for non-members and $8 for members. To register, send email to Nick Houtman, firstname.lastname@example.org, with "City Club September 10th" in the subject line.