Paving the way: Roads committee talks funding in Creswell

CRESWELL – Over the last few weeks, there has been a special push in Creswell to keep the “Friendly City” drivable and safe for residents within the city limits, and folks just passing through. The Creswell Roads Ad-Hoc Committee was formed to find sustainable funding sources for fixing up the roads in town, with the long-term goal of presenting their plan to the city council and public. 

The committee is working alongside the 20-year transportation system plan compiled by both the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the City of Creswell. The plan identified potential road extension projects, and “multi-modal” streets, multi-use paths, pedestrian-only-areas in need of work. It is estimated that the city needs to raise $255,000 per year to complete the 20-year transportation system plan. Their goal is to create a “long-range plan for the maintenance and replacement of Creswell roads and sidewalks” with a “sustainable funding mechanism adequate to implement the plan.” 

At the April 24 meeting, city engineer Steve Ward gave a presentation on different strategies for finding sustainable funding. He outlined a few options he’d researched from other cities of a similar size in Oregon, including Jefferson and Cottage Grove: a local improvement district (LID), a franchise fee, a gas tax, a potential bond measure and a Transportation Utility Fee (TUF). 

A Local Improvement District (LID) is a method by which a group of property owners can share the cost of infrastructure improvements. This can include improving the street, building sidewalks, and installing a stormwater management system. If an LID is formed, the City manages the design and construction of the project, and property owners do not pay until the work is complete. LIDs have also been successfully used to provide sanitary sewer, water main improvements, traffic signal, and utility undergrounding improvements in conjunction with street improvements for economies of scale to provide comprehensive and complete infrastructure solutions to neighborhoods.

A franchise fee is a fee a city can place on a utility company for the use of the city right of way to deliver services. These fees are then trickled down to the utility user, showing up on water and gas bills as an additional line item. 

A gas tax was suggested as a potential funding tool. In taxing the price of gas 2-3 cents per gallon, everyone who fills up at a Creswell pump would be contributing to the management of the roadway, not just citizens of Creswell proper. Gas taxes are used across the state, even in smaller communities like Cottage Grove and Jefferson. 

A transportation utility fee (TUF) is a periodic fee paid to a municipality by property users or owners within a local jurisdiction to fund the operations and maintenance costs of transportation facilities. Residents and businesses are charged a fee based on their use of the transportation system. Because the use of the transportation system is not metered like electricity or water, the amount that is charged for a TUF is based on estimates of the number of trips generated by different land uses (e.g., single-family residence, multi-family residence, school, gas station, shopping center). Those estimates are typically informed by trip-generation rates prepared by ODOT. 

A bond measure was also put on the table, potentially in conjunction with another fundraising tactic outlined above. After a lengthy discussion of each funding source, the committee decided to spend more time with the information in the hopes of voting amongst themselves at the May 19 meeting. 

The committee was originally slated to present their proposal to the City Council during the May 23 work session, in time for the measure to be on the November ballot; however, they moved to extend their working deadline, pending approval from the city council. 

The committee consists of council president Kevin Prociw, councilor Shelly Clark, councilor Tammy Schuck, residents Chelsea Pisani, Bill Spencer, Don Ehrich, and Kelley Coughlin, and is assisted by city manager Michelle Amberg, public works Director Cliff Bellew, and finance director James Piper. During its first meeting, Prociw was voted in as committee chair and Clark as committee secretary.



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