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Preserve the character of our community

Craig Stephens submitted a letter in last week’s Review regarding Lake Oswego’s reserves, noting they had gone from a six-month equivalent down to three months. He correctly reports the former reserves allowed obtaining the lowest possible interest rates in the LOIS project, but it also applies to all other city undertakings. It is not just the reserves that have been affected by prior city councils’ actions, but all of our utility bills have moved steadily up. The income of residents has not kept pace.

His letter seemed to indicate the situation regarding the reserves was the fault of the current citizens Budget Committee recommendations as adopted by the current city council. In this I differ substantially with him. Responsibility for our current predicament can be laid at the feet of the former majorities in the city council over the previous 12 years. Under former mayors Judie Hammerstad and Jack Hoffman we entered into or tried to enter into a number of projects that were detrimental to our reserves. They ran out the clock on the budget flexibility LO had and spent down our reserves to the point where there is only a few million in general fund reserves.

The WEB eats up $1 million a year in interest payments alone and perhaps a second million in operating costs and a third million in associated programs. How many millions were also spent on studies regarding the LO-Portland streetcar, the Foothills project and the North Anchor project (including purchase of overpriced properties)?

Mr. Stephens is on the steering committee of KLOG, which supported the efforts of Mayor Hoffman 100 percent. He also was treasurer on the re-election committee of Roger Hennagin, a defeated city councilor in 2010 who participated in both the overspending of city money and the neglecting of our streets.

I found Mr. Stephens’ letter similar to others we have seen the last seven months attempting to transfer blame from one administration to another. The current city council has been severely challenged to rectify the complex set of problems created previously.

It is time to officially label the pooch poop bag dispensers installed during the Hoffman administration the “Hoffman Legacy.” He has left the rest of us to clean up the leavings he created. The LOTWP has committed us to an expense, which was of questionable necessity, benefit or wisdom.

Yes, there needed to be renovation to our water system, but extremely doubtful that it had to be to this extent or at this great dedication of public funds. Pending litigation regarding that project, the sensitive lands designations, the Lake Corp./public access and other matters will profit only attorneys, not residents.

I do agree, however, with Mr. Stephens and Dave Berg that we want to preserve our community character for the maturing population since my wife and I are in that category. A reason the majority of candidates supported by KLOG in the last two elections were defeated was those candidates wanted to change the character of LO and the majority of residents did not.

Hopefully it is not already too late to reverse the tide in Lake Oswego for many seniors, but is the ever-growing number of homes for sale in the city an indication that many of them believe it is too late?

Gary Gipson is a resident of Lake Oswego and a board member of COLA-LO.



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