Tag Archives: Bend Bulletin

Redmond Oregon Needs More Police – NO FEES

Below is the Guest Opinion column I authored that was published in the Bend (Oregon) Bulletin September 29, 2017 and the Redmond Spokesman earlier in the week.

A public Hearing on this matter is scheduled for Monday, November 13, 2017 at  5:30 pm at City Hall in Redmond, Oregon:

On Tuesday evening September 19th, 2017 The Redmond City Council proposed tacking on a “public safety fee” of $6 a month to residents’ monthly utility bills ($72 per annum), raising the cash to add more Police officers to the Department. This is a terribly slippery slope. No City of Redmond resident vote is required to implement this fee.

Cities in Oregon are under siege to address increasing costs and stagnant revenues. While population growth in Redmond is projected to be flat in the near term, City law enforcement resources are, and have been, stretched beyond reason.  While a few Oregon cities have resorted to this type of fee to address resources for public safety, most have done so as a last resort – to avoid debilitating cuts in public safety and emergency services.  Yet, an aggressive leap into levying fees across the board in Redmond without voter approval, where no cuts in public safety resources are anticipated, demands dialog. A prudent person would ask the following:

Where can the City make cuts in the current budget? Have the City and the Police Department exhausted all available grant opportunities to provide funding for additional officers? Has our Congressional delegation in D.C. been consulted regarding available grant resources? What was their response? Are there other revenue streams that might be created whereby the non-resident population of the City of Redmond whose activities demand City law enforcement resources been considered and thoroughly exhausted? What percentage of City of Redmond law enforcement resources are expended on non-residents of the City of Redmond? What is the “sundown date” on such a fee? Are Redmond residents and the business community insulated from any future fee increases and/or fee levying activity by the Mayor and the City Council of this nature?

Utility fees are just that. They are also usage fees based upon actual consumption. The proposed public safety fee tacked onto utility bills is not a usage fee. Furthermore, to relegate community law enforcement staffing resources to a vehicle where wastewater and sewage fees are assessed is down right stinky…this suggestion simply does not pass the smell test.

Maybe Redmond should get out of the golf business…Redmond businesses and residents have borne City utility rate increases of 2%, as identified in the 2015/2016 budget and 3% effective July 2017. When one examines the 2016/2017 City Budget one thing jumps out: Golf Course debt at the beginning of the 2016/17 budget year was $4,812,778 with $419,611 of annual  debt service. Furthermore, the budget reveals: “Over the last several fiscal years, the General Fund has needed to cover the payments on the majority of these debt obligations. The FY 2016/17 budget assumes the General Fund will need to cover about 100% of the bond payments associated with building the golf course over a decade ago.” (p.50. of Redmond 2016/2017 Budget . 2017/2018 Budget is HERE).

Redmond, like many Oregon cities has and continues to have an addictive affection for urban renewal funds. However, there’s a downside to a fiscal focus of this nature – earmarking future property tax revenues to address the urban renewal debt already on the books. Thus, when the Police Department requires more officers to protect the community properly, City management is at a loss for where these funds will be derived. This is shortsighted.

The merit of the need for additional Police Officers for Redmond is unequivocal (although I need to be persuaded about the legitimate need for a “downtown foot patrol”). Yet, proceeding down this slippery slope of assessing fees to utility bills to provide adequate funding for the essential and fundamental public safety resources the community and the Department deserve – well – like I’ve said – demands dialog.

City of Redmond  financial resources have an uncanny inertia for expenditures designed for embalming the past (Evergreen Elementary School acquisition/renovation and ongoing expenditures attempting to re-invigorate a “downtown core,” and an urban renewal funds addiction) vs. planning for the absolute fundamental necessities of the future. The men and women of The Redmond Police Department deserve more personnel, resources, and vastly better financial planning from the City. So do the residents of the City of Redmond, Oregon.

Respectfully submitted,

Bill Dahl

A public hearing on this matter is scheduled for Monday, November 13, 2017 at  5:30 pm at City Hall in Redmond, Oregon.

Cost(a) Accounting & The Homeless

Costa Editorial Sunday September 20th 2009 – Bend Bulletin- Who’s Really Harming The Homeless?

Homeless

Sunday September 20th 2009

Mr. Scott Cooper – Director of Public Policy

Partnership To End Poverty

521 SW 6th Street – Suite 101

P.O. Box 147

Redmond, Oregon 97756

Scott:

I would like to share with you the dismay I felt in terms of John Costa’s unfortunate editorial on page F-1 of the Bend Bulletin today (Sunday September 20th 2009) entitled “Who’s Really Harming The Homeless?

We typically don’t have any problem counting money. Yet, when the equation involves people, that’s when the math gets murky. Unfortunately, we have developed a tendency to forget/argue how to count people accurately when it comes to socio-political issues…particularly one’s like homelessness, where the persons being counted do not have an Editorial page platform to expound from.  It really boils down to counterfeit counting or, counting only the folks that somebody defines as worth counting, the ones that truly matter, or disparaging the number of those (particularly the needy) identified as counted. The figures we throw around depend upon the position we are attempting to support (Costa’s carefully crafted defense of his newspaper came off just that way — defending his count). This is what I refer to as arbitrary arithmetic or arbithmetic: the rules for counting change depending upon the reason underlying your count. Whether people count or not is dependent upon some pre-defined subjective definition that somebody makes up and translates into a quantifiable form.

We have arrived at a critical juncture in our region that demands that we revisit the madness of our arbithmetic, as characterized by the following author: “The first step is to measure whatever can be easily counted. This is OK as far as it goes. The second step is to disregard that which can’t be easily measured or to give it an arbitrary quantitative value. This is artificial and misleading. The third step is to presume that which can’t be measured easily really isn’t important. This is blindness. The fourth step is to say that which can’t be easily measured really doesn’t exist. This is suicide.”[i]

Counting can be considered, cold, cruel and calculated. When we immerse ourselves in this routine activity, we can become desensitized to the essential compassion and character required of one who embraces a citizen’s responsibility for ridding our region of the scourge of homelessness. As one author points out, “At the end of the twentieth century, many millions of refugees and displaced persons are victims of “compassion fatigue.”[ii] We human beings have a history replete with centuries of evidence documenting our tiring about the care of the less fortunate. Yes, we continue to suffer from this insidious malady today.

Total assets minus total liabilities equals net worth.  Is diminishing human beings to arguments over counting them vs. addressing the fundamental deficiencies that feed the burgeoning divide between the haves and the poor, the needy, the marginalized, the displaced and the homeless something that detracts from the net worth of this region? Is it possible that, “In the process of being against something worth being against, one often becomes for something not worth being for.”[iii] When the outsiders view of central Oregon appears to be at an all-time low, is it time to examine whether or not Mr. Costa’s editorial is evidence of the possibility that The Bulletin has succumbed  to becoming for something not worth being for? I hope not. I think that is taking things too far.

My wife came home exhausted and heartbroken after volunteering (with hundreds of others) serving the thousands of the less fortunate at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds on Saturday September 19th. I wish Mr. Costa could have been here when my wife returned. He would have garnered a vastly deeper appreciation of what truly counts in central Oregon. He could have experienced a woman with a broken heart. Broken hearts are difficult to count.

Mr. Costa’s editorial broke my heart. He could have chosen a vastly more constructive expenditure of his energy and his platform. I forgive him. I’ve made the same mistake myself.

Then again, who’s counting?

NOTES


[i] Handy, Charles The Age of Paradox Harvard Business School Press © 1994 p. 221

[ii] Power, Samantha & Allison, Graham Realizing Human Rights – Moving From Inspiration to Impact, (c) 2000 by Samantha Power and Graham Allison, St. Martin’s Press, New York, NY. p. 30.

[iii] Campolo, Tony and McLaren, Brian Adventures in Missing the Point – How the Culture Controlled Church Neutered the Gospel, Emergent YS Books – Zondervan Publishers, Inc. Grand Rapids, MI., Copyright © 2003 by Youth Specialties p. 242.