By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
On Wednesday night, Bend City Council will consider adopting a proposed tax increment financing plan designed to spur the renewal of an area of Bend east of the Parkway.
The plan would reinvest property tax revenues for 30 years into transportation projects, affordable housing and business development assistance in the target area.
But city officials want to be clear: It’s not a new tax.
A few weeks ago, property owners in Bend received a legal notice describing a proposed core area tax increment finance plan.
Essentially, this is an urban renewal proposal focused on 630 acres of land east of downtown Bend that the City believes needs help to develop to its full potential.
The notice mentions $195 million dollars of maximum indebtedness and that raised questions for a lot of people. The first being: Is this an additional tax on property owners?
“It’s not a new tax, it’s not an additional tax,” said Matt Stuart, Bend Urban Renewal Manager. “It’s a way for us look at a certain area and reinvest the tax dollars that are generated by that certain area and try to meet our long term goals, especially around housing and new jobs which we are projecting we are going to need around 2,000 new homes within the next 20 years and 1,700 new jobs to meet our growth projections.”
One example of a Core Area project is at Hawthorne Avenue where a pedestrian and bicycle bridge is proposed over the Parkway and the railroad tracks connecting the west side of town to the bus station and Juniper Park on the east side of town.
That might be a benefit for people who want to move around town without a car and could encourage mixed-use development in an area that’s currently hard to reach.
“We do have a good example in the Bend downtown area,” Stuart said. “That was an urban renewal area through the late ’80s, early ’90s up until 2012. That one gave us the Putnam Point affordable housing development, the parking garage, the streetscape and the utility and transportation improvements that allowed downtown Bend to really succeed along with the Downtown Bend Business Association. If we can work there and take those same principles and apply them in the core area, we can manage this properly.”
Tonight’s Bend City Council meeting at which the Core Area Urban Renewal Plan will be considered is an entirely virtual meeting. You can watch a livestream through the city’s website, or view it on COTV, Channel 4 on the BendBroadband cable system.