By HANNAH SIEVERT
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
Even in the midst of an economic recession, Deschutes County voters approved three bond measures.
One of those measures, the City of Bend’s transportation bond, will fund dozens of road improvements.
It will raise property taxes, although not until 2022.
“You know, it’s truly a miracle,” Bend Mayor Sally Russell said of the bond. “It’s what the community wanted. Our goal was to put together a package that really worked for the community and what they said that they wanted.”
The approved Redmond Schools bond will fund new classrooms and safety upgrades to local schools.
The measure won’t raise property taxes in the district, but it will maintain the tax rate put in place by previous bonds.
“What you’ll see is heating system replacements, lighting system replacements,” Charan Cline, Redmond Schools superintendent, said. “You’ll see roof projects happening. Lots and lots of maintenance things going on.”
Another approved bond will fund the construction of a new library. Taxes will increase in Deschutes County to fund the initiative; a home with a value of $200,000 will pay around $78 per year.
“It sounds to me that people are still very much connected to their library and understand the value that a library brings to the community,” Todd Dunkelberg, library director for Deschutes Public Library, said.
Oregon State professor and elections historian Christopher McKnight Nichols said he is surprised so many voters approved these measures during an economic recession.
“The received wisdom in a moment like this — a pandemic and an economic recession — is generally speaking, voters are cautious and politicians are cautious about moving forward with large-scale appropriations,” McKnight Nichols said.
According to McKnight Nichols, the approvals show some voters’ confidence in the return of the economy and in the stability of their jobs. People hit hard by the pandemic economically are the “least likely” to have voted in favor of the bonds, he said.
“What we’ve seen by people who are voting with their mouths and their literal ballots is that they trust government, and they’re willing to appropriate more funds, including having more taxes, to support important projects they believe in,” McKnight Nichols said.
The success of local bonds could also be attributed to the influx of people moving into Central Oregon.
“They want more infrastructure and they’re willing to pay for it,” McKnight Nichols said.