JSIP Final Decisions: Benton County is wrapping up final decisions on a bond measure that will go before the voters in May. The Justice System Improvement Program (JSIP) is a $110 million dollar bond aimed at upgrading county law enforcement facilities.
At the Feb. 22 meeting, Nick Kurth, the JSIP project manager will present final options to commissioners. The board is expected to wrap up decisions on final verbiage for the ballot measure and the explanatory statement that will go before the voters.
Phase I of the program is fully funded and includes the new downtown Crisis Center funded through state and federal grants and the new courthouse and District Attorney’s office. Those facilities will be funded with county borrowing and a 50% state matching grant for the courthouse. Phase II facilities would require voter-approved bond funding, according to a release from the county.
If the bond passes, it would be an estimated bond levy rate of $0.55 per $1,000 of assessed property value. The cost would be an estimated $142 per year for a homeowner in Benton County with an average tax-assessed value of $258,596.
If the bond fails to pass, the county will not move forward with building the facilities, and taxes would not increase.
The county will not host any additional community events. However, the League of Women Voters of Corvallis will host a community educational forum in March. Details will be shared as soon as they are available. The Advocate and City Club of Corvallis have also approached the county with dates for a Cityspeak townhall.
Leaf Collection: At a work session on Feb. 23, the Corvallis City Council will mull over a franchise agreement with the company that maintains the leaf collection throughout Corvallis. The city’s annual Leaf Collection program is facilitated through a partnership with Republic Services.
“Republic Services typically proposes, and the city typically approves, an eight-week collection season with collection occurring weekly on most streets. The city adjusts the street sweeping schedule so that streets are swept following leaf collection,” said Jeff Blaine, Public Works Director.
Each year, the city schedules the collection season in order to keep leaves out of bike lanes. However, Blaine says that despite those efforts there are still leaves left in bike lanes resulting in frustrations from community members.
“As it relates to whether it is a code requirement to keep bike lanes clear of leaves, the city has sent mixed messages to the community over the years. At times, the city has taken the stance that placing leaves in the bike lane is prohibited but lacked code and enforcement capabilities to support that stance,” said Blaine. “At other times, the city has taken more of a “recommendation” stance, which more closely aligns with the franchise agreement’s explicit intent to use streets with bike lanes for leaf collection. This situation has led to frustration for some of the public for over a decade.”
Each year, the council receives requests to end the leaf collection program and staff can find documents dating back roughly ten years where concerns regarding leaf pile conflicts with keeping the bicycle paths clear.
Despite the frustrations for the bicycling public, the Leaf Collection Program remains a popular program for those that use it, said Blaine.
The City Council will be reviewing the current language of the franchise agreement ahead of the upcoming season to determine if the stack of complaints warrants any changes. Separately, officials are considering renewal of the Republic Services franchise agreement with the city.
By: Jennifer Williams