On December 18 Metro referred a five-year local option levy of 9.6 cents per $1,000 of taxable assessed value to the voters for consideration in the May election. If passed, the measure would raise about $10 million annually for maintenance of 12,400 acres of land Metro bought over the past decade with public tax dollars.

Unfortunately, very few voters will ever get to visit those areas. Most of the large natural areas are far from population centers, such as the 1,200-acre Chehalem Ridge tract near Gaston or the 1,100 acres purchased in the Sandy River Gorge.

More importantly, Metro doesn’t want you there. The agency has announced that if the levy passes, only five to fifteen percent of the funds each year would be used to provide access for the public, such as signage, parking facilities, public rest rooms, or trails. Many of the access points, now gated, would remain closed. This is because Metro’s top priority is restoring natural areas for wildlife, fish, and water quality.

Metro likes to promote the concept of “nature in the neighborhood,” but when it comes to spending our tax dollars to buy up land, neighborhoods will be locked out. The levy should be rejected until these priorities change.

John A. Charles, Jr. is President and CEO of Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

 

2 Responses to “Money for Nothing”

  1. Bob Clark December 22, 2012 at 5:10 pm #

    It is also about keeping Metro’s numerous bureaucrats fat and happy with their six figure plus compensation packages. The idea of Metro is to take land out of availability so as to restrict population growth to the contrived City of Portland with its un-satiable need for a captive tax base to prop up a costly, wasteful and over active Portland city hall.

  2. Max December 22, 2012 at 10:40 pm #

    More to the point: Metro sold these bond measures to the public on the premise that the money would be used for “acquisition and preservation of natural areas for the benefit of wildlife and people”. Since then, Metro has set aside no funds for that “preservation” part (hence, the upcoming bond request), but they HAVE given 500 acres along Clear Creek to their Oregon Zoo subsidiary for development of off-site breeding facilities for California condors and pygmy rabbits, and have now agreed to buy 240 acres at the former Roslyn Lake to give to the zoo for development of an off-site elephant breeding facility and associated structures.

    Regardless of how one may view the development of breeding facilities for endangered species, it remains that Metro has abrogated their agreement with voters to acquire and preserve natural areas for the benefit of wildlife and people.

    By turning nearly 1000 acres over to the zoo for development, they are destroying the natural areas that they pledged to save; rendering them unusable (and therefore of no benefit) for wildlife or people.

    Moreover, Metro and their subsidiary sold a $125 million bond measure for the zoo on a pledge to construct an off-site elephant area that would afford the animals room to roam, but now claim that their intent was to establish such an area in order to acquire and breed additional elephants.

    Metro and their subsidiary agency have demonstrated conclusively that their pledges to voters have no value.

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