Clackamas County Goldilocks Train Keeps Rolling
Despite the state of the economy, despite the need to improve roads and public service, and despite outcry from the residents of Clackamas County, the Clackamas County commissioners, last night, approved a $22.6 million dollar agreement with Trimet for the Portland-Milwaukie light rail.
Here's an excerpt from Oregon Live:
The renegotiated deal with TriMet is less than the $25 million commissioners agreed in February 2010 to contribute to the $1.5 billion project. TriMet offered to slash $2.4 million from the county's bill, but the county also offered several concessions, including property and the waiver of various fees TriMet owes the county.
The new agreement and financing plan passed 3-1, with Commissioner Paul Savas, a longtime critic of the project, the lone opponent. Commissioner Jim Bernard abstained, citing business property he owns in downtown Milwaukie that is expected to be affected by the project.
Chairwoman Charlotte Lehan and commissioners Jamie Damon and Ann Lininger hailed the new agreement as a financially wise deal that will save taxpayer money.
"The choices we have are to pay less now for a better project with more features and needs expressed by community members, or paying more later without those project features," Lininger said in explaining her support. "There is not to my understanding the option of not paying."
The reduced contribution would free up approximately $330,000 annually in the general budget over the next 20 years and save $1.6 million in interest over that time period, county officials said.
Approving the agreement sends the message to other regional partners that Clackamas County follows through with its commitments, the commissioners said.
"We can't expect our partners to be willing to partner with us to support our projects in the region when we're not able to do even 1.5 percent, the very small amount for this project," Lehan said. "This project, I truly believe, can be a renaissance for Oak Grove and Milwaukie."
The vote came against the backdrop of the Sept. 18 special election, when voters will decide on the anti-light rail initiative Measure 3-401.
"Doing this in advance of the vote is poor public policy," Savas said. "This does not gain or garner trust from the public."
This deal shows a complete disregard for what the public wants.
Thankfully, the public has the opportunity in October and November to remedy this issue.