June 16, 2024

Bend, Redmond mayors discuss how property tax limits, higher costs pose budget challenges

(Update: adding video and comment from Mayor Kebler and Mayor Fitch)

‘Revenue has not kept pace,’ Bend’s Melanie Kebler says; ‘living within the means we have,’ says Redmond’s Fitch

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) — Oregon voters close to 30 years ago put a cap on how much property taxes – actually, the taxable assessed value of property — could increase each year, at 3%. It’s just one of the factors that are now a given when budget time comes each spring for cities like Bend and Redmond.

Other factors are more dynamic.

Add in Bend’s low property tax rate, the recent rounds of inflation, staffing challenges in the public and private sectors and declining gas tax revenue amid the move toward electric cars, and the challenges multiply.

But the dollars don’t, necessarily – at least, not as much as some believe or expect.

“We have that artificial cap,” Bend Mayor Melanie Kebler told us Wednesday. “So what we are seeing happening is a strain in our ability to provide those serves that people in a city the size of over 100,000 want to see has gone up. But that revenue has not kept pace.”

To the north, Redmond has grown fast, too, but as it approaches 40,000 residents, Mayor Ed Fitch believes they are doing fairly well in meeting folks’ needs and expectations within the limitations local governments face.

“We’ve always taken a more conservative approach, living within the means we have,” he said Wednesday. “And I think it has paid off for the city over time, because we don’t have any big budget deficits.”

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