Deschutes County Property Tax Measure (2008)
that would have created a separately funded transit district, with longer operating hours and route expansion south to Deschutes River Woods.
This was the third attempt for such a measure; two previous ones were rejected at the polls.
This measure was defeated in the November 2008 election.
One key selling point of the measure was that a transit district would allow the city to put the $1.5 million a year it now spends on transit back into the general fund for other needs. Police and fire, for example, won't be able to add several new positions in 2009 due to a budget shortfall now estimated at $20 million over the current 2-year budget.
Former Mayor Oran Teater and outgoing Bend Chamber leader Mike Schmidt said a poll of 300 regular voters found a slim 52 percent majority would strongly or somewhat support the transit measure at a proposed rate of 39 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, or roughly $70 a year for the owner of an average ($180,000) home.
Chris Telfer, who served on the transit review panel, said it's clear the current funding mechanism is "not sustainable."
Telfer said she's not in favor of putting even more general-fund dollars into transit, to keep it at current service levels, "so I'm in favor of putting it out to voters: Do they want transit or not?"
Councilor Mark Capell said, "As much as I'm in favor of putting this to a vote, I think we're going to come to the realization that if it doesn't pass, we're going to lose the buses. As Chris said, we can't afford to keep paying for it."
"Now that's a really nasty thing to have to put out to the public, but that's the reality," Capell said. "Whether it happens six months or five years after the vote, eventually we're going to run out of cash, unless people step up and pay for it a different way."
Mayor Oran Teater and outgoing Bend Chamber leader Mike Schmidt's poll of 300 voters showed that 48% of them were not in favor of the measure, but proponents said they were confident that the measure would pass, even if it is by a small margin. There was no record of anyone or any organization who expressed an organized opposition to the measure.