At the Tuesday, Dec. 11, Troutdale City Council meeting, Multnomah County Chairman Ted Wheeler asked us to approve a request to sign an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) that would allow the county to ask its voters to approve a $27 increase in vehicle registration fees. The increased fees would be used to pay for renovation or replacement of the Sellwood Bridge. I joined a majority of the City Council by voting against approval of the IGA.
According to ORS 801.401(7), Multnomah County cannot raise the vehicle registration fee for a specific purpose unless it enters into an intergovernmental agreement with ALL overlapping jurisdictions including Troutdale, Gresham, Fairview, Wood Village, Maywood Park, Lake Oswego, Washington and Clackamas Counties, TriMet and Metro.
I agree that the Sellwood Bridge needs to be replaced or fully renovated. However, Wheeler’s plan doesn’t raise enough money to do so. The county intends to raise $100 million in seed money with the increased vehicle registration fees. Wheeler said the county might also be able to get $30 to $50 million in federal matching funds.
However, Wheeler told us the estimated cost to replace/renovate the Sellwood Bridge could be $300 million. Based on my experience with “rough estimates,” the actual cost could be closer to $500 to $600 million. Wheeler’s plan comes up at least $150 million short. Troutdale residents shouldn’t be asked to vote for a Sellwood Bridge replacement plan that has no chance of success due to insufficient revenue to complete the project.
I would be willing to change my vote to “Yes” on the intergovernmental agreement (IGA) if some contingencies for additional funds/solutions were built into the IGA. Some possibilities:
• Passage of a gasoline tax increase by the state Legislature
• Creation of a Regional Bridge Authority, to address bridge maintenance/replacement on a regional level
• Sufficient federal matching funds to complete renovation/replacement
• Financial contribution from Clackamas/Washington counties and the city of Portland
• Use of existing Multnomah County general funds
• Require trucks more than 25,000 pounds gross vehicle weight to pay their share of bridge replacement costs, not just cars and small trucks
• Creation of bicycle license fee
The entire region needs to pay for replacement of the Sellwood Bridge, not just car and small truck vehicle owners within Multnomah County.