Community digs deeper

Kelly Brady of Pendleton asked members of the Pendleton Economic Development Board about the proposed gas tax that would help fund the Barnhart Road project Tuesday at a town hall meeting at the Pendleton Convention Center. <BR><I>Staff photo by E.J. Harris

Below is a summary of the questions and answers from Wednesday night?s meeting about the Barnhart/Airport Road and the proposal for a 4.4 cent a gallon fuel tax to fund the $9.5 million project.

Q. How much will it cost to complete the Barnhart/Airport Road project?

A. The city now has $5.94 million for the project, leaving a shortfall of about $3.6 million.

But the final cost will be higher. Pendleton Economic Development Director Tracy Bosen said $3.6 million debt with a 4.8 percent interest over 20 years would equal $5.68 million.

Q. Will there be other funds to help pay for the project?

A. Perhaps. The city is seeking a $1.4 million grant that would go toward paving the final mile. If the city gets the grant, the cost of the project would drop to $2.2 million. Proponents also promised to continue aggressively seeking other monies.

Q. How long would the tax be in effect?

A. Until the city pays off the debt of the project. Depending on the scenario that could 10 years or as little as 5 years depending upon other sources of funding.

Q. Would the city use the tax for any thing else?

A. Bosen said the money the city collects would go just toward paying for the Barnhart/Airport Road

Q. Could a future city council extend the tax?

A. Yes, it could, City Manager Larry Lehman said, but not without a public vote.

Q: Will this tax apply to aviation fuel?

A. No, Bosen said.

Q. What kind of infrastructure exists at the industrial area near the Eastern Oregon Regional Airport?

A. A fiber optic cable ? that?s it.

Q. Aside from the road, what about providing the area with water and sewer systems?

A. Pendleton Public Works Director Bob Patterson said the city is trying to get a $1.2 million grant from the federal Economic Development Administration for a water system to the area. The city would have to pay $300,000 in matching funds.

Sewer systems would be on-site, Patterson said, and the city would negotiate costs with new businesses at time of construction.

Q. If new big businesses set up in the industrial zone, what will happen to Pendleton?s water supply?

A. Pendleton?s has the capacity to handle 15 million gallons of water a day, Patterson said. Peak usage now reaches 10 million gallons a day.

Q. Pendleton can?t maintain all the roads it has now. How will we fund maintenance of this new road?

A. There are no funds for maintaining the road, but as new businesses locate to Airport Hill, their taxes will pay for that maintenance.

Q. How will this road stand up to heavy semitrailer use?

A. The road will meet high federal standards to handle that exact use. The asphalt itself would be six inches deep, and the rock underneath would be 14 inches deep.

Q. What guarantees is there businesses will come if we build this road?

A. Bosen said there are no guarantees, but Kim Puzey, director of the Port of Umatilla, said making a site available will draw the attention of industry. And once one business locates to an industrial area, there can be a domino effect of others following.

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