Yesterday afternoon (March 9) the Metro Council referred to the region’s voters, for final consideration at the November 7 election, a $227.4 million bond measure proposal for the purposes of purchasing natural areas and protecting water quality and wildlife habitat.
A copy of the news release, which was issued today, is included below. Further information on this proposal is available online at www.metro-region.org/bondmeasure.
Metro news release
March 9, 2006
Contact: Ken Ray, (503) 797-1508, email@example.com
Voters to direct Metro Council on purchase of natural areas, protection of water quality
Council refers $227.4 million bond measure for consideration at November 2006 election
The Metro Council voted unanimously today to refer to voters a bond measure to purchase natural areas, preserve fish and wildlife habitat, and protect water quality. The $227.4 million package will be considered by the region’s voters at the Nov. 7 election.
The bond measure package is designed to preserve natural areas and protect rivers, streams and creeks at the regional, local and neighborhood levels:
· $168.4 million would be used by Metro to purchase between 3,500 and 4,500 acres of land in identified target areas that would provide regional benefits in preserving wildlife habitat, protecting water quality, enhancing trails and greenways, and connecting urban areas with nature;
· $44 million would be distributed to cities, counties and park districts within Metro’s jurisdiction to fund identified local projects that are consistent with protection of natural areas and water quality, such as land acquisition for habitat protection or future parks, and
· $15 million would fund a new Nature in Neighborhoods Capital Grants Program whereby non-profit organizations, local governments, and other community-based organizations could apply for matched funding (with $2 of outside funds or in-kind contributions matching $1 of Metro funds) to support community-level projects. Projects could include the acquisition of neighborhood natural areas, development of community gardens, habitat restoration efforts, interpretive displays, and development of trails, among others.
The program would operate entirely on a willing-seller basis with local property owners. Lands purchased through this bond measure would be retained in public ownership.
“This is one of the most important steps we can take as we face continued population growth,” said Metro Councilor Susan McLain, who introduced the bond measure resolution Feb. 23. “Our area is one of the fastest growing parts of the state. This measure helps plan for growth by protecting natural areas and land along our rivers and streams that might otherwise be threatened by development.
“As a fifth-generation Oregonian, I feel this is an important effort that will help keep Oregon Oregon.”
This bond measure proposal is modeled after a successful $135.6 million package approved by the region’s voters in May 1995. The 2006 proposal was formed in consultation with scientists, conservation experts, community leaders and citizens to develop a science-based natural areas protection program that protects water quality and wildlife habitat, preserves scenic vistas and ridge tops, restores streambeds and riparian corridors, and enhances public access to natural areas. [emphasis added]
A Blue Ribbon Committee of 18 community leaders provided recommendations to the Metro Council on the bond measure proposal last December. Following the presentation of the committee’s recommendations, the Metro Council received further public input through regional public forums, public hearings, and other venues.
“In communities all over the region, citizens have expressed a strong desire to preserve the region’s quality of life and natural beauty. We can leave a legacy for future generations by acting now,” added Metro Council President David Bragdon.
If the bond measure is approved by voters, it is estimated that owners of property within Metro’s jurisdiction would pay an assessment of 19 cents per $1000 of assessed value in the first year. For a home assessed at $175,000, that amounts to $33.25. The annual assessment rate is expected to decline over time as the region’s population grows and the property base expands. These estimates are based on an anticipated 20-year payoff period.
All of the bond expenditures would be subject to an annual independent audit published in a local newspaper. An independent citizen advisory committee would provide oversight on all elements of the program.
Additional information on the bond measure proposal can be found on Metro’s Web site at www.metro-region.org/bondmeasure.
Metro, the regional government that serves 1.3 million people who live in the 25 cities and three counties of the Portland metropolitan area, provides planning and other services that protect the nature and livability of our region.