Opinion & Editorial

Mayor: Creswell needs transportation fee


The following letter represents my personal position as mayor of Creswell. No decision on this matter has been made by the city council.

“Time is your enemy.” Those words stopped me cold. “Time is your enemy,” said the consultant the city had hired to help us figure out what to do about the decaying roads in Creswell. “Every day you do nothing, your roads decay just a little bit more, while the cost of fixing them keeps going up.”

My family moved to Creswell in 1982 and the majority of roads I drove on then, I am driving on still. The problem? Creswell’s funds for fixing roads and installing sidewalks are woefully inadequate. 

In 2019 the City completed a 20-year Transportation System Master Plan. The plan showed that Creswell has a long list of road projects for the coming 20 years, totaling $26 million. And the plan showed an annual funding gap of $255,000. 

The city gets money for road maintenance and construction from the state gas tax and vehicle registration fees ($450,000 annually) and from the Oregon Department of Transportation in grant funds ($60,000 annually), for a combined $510,000 each year. The city spends $330,000 annually for routine road maintenance, leaving a balance of $180,000 each year that is set aside for the major road work spelled out in the Transportation System Master Plan.  

At our current rate of savings ($180,000 annually), Creswell can do one major street project every six years. But as the consultant pointed out, our roads are deteriorating at a much faster pace. Time is our enemy.

In 2020 the city council studied the idea of a gas tax; in 2021 that idea was deemed inadequate as the long-term solution we needed. In 2022 a Roads ad-hoc committee was formed, including city councilors and members of the community. 

The options they considered included a local improvement district, street bonds, and a transportation utility fee. 

Their recommendation was to enact a local improvement district for specific road projects and to establish a city-wide transportation utility fee. The council accepted their recommendation.

The city council is set to vote on the Transportation Utility Fee at the April 10 meeting. Over the past four years we have convened committees, explored options, and done lots of talking.  

As our roads continue to deteriorate, we have raised exactly zero dollars to fix them. Aside from money that we receive from the state, Creswell has no means of raising money for our roads.

Many cities have a gas tax; Creswell does not.  Many cities already have a TUF in place – Philomath charges $8 per month on a single-family residence, Coburg charges $7, Veneta charges $7, Myrtle Creek charges $4.  

If the city council creates a transportation utility fee, the rate for a single-family residence will be $4 per month. The fee is lower if you live in an apartment or mobile home park; the fee is higher for businesses, the school district, and churches. Ninety-six percent of those who will pay this fee are single-family residences.  

A transportation utility fee in Creswell is fair – every property that receives city water will pay a monthly amount. It is flexible – the fee does not automatically go up each year and can be challenged by anyone who believes their fee is inaccurate.  Because it is an annual fee it will be reviewed each year in January by a committee that includes both citizens and city councilors. 

A Transportation Utility Fee is the best long-term solution to maintain and build the roads we need in Creswell.  

If you have questions, there is information available. Come to City Hall and request a copy of the committee reports or the presentation given by the TUF consultant. Ask for a copy of the ordinance the council will be voting on. 

Send an email to any of our councilors or to me. Consider attending the April 10 city council meeting at 7 p.m., in-person or online. 

Dave Stram is the mayor of Creswell.



View this profile on Instagram


The Chronicle (@thechronicle1909) • Instagram photos and videos