At a recent Pendleton Development Commission (PDC) workshop, the committee that provides input on projects they believe Pendleton residents see as a priority for urban renewal made their pitch to members of the city council. Projects with the highest priority include street reconstruction in the Urban Renewal District (URD), downtown parking enhancement, upper story restoration of historic buildings downtown and creation of a Byers Avenue riverfront festival plaza.

A former city councilor presented some pretty compelling arguments for extending the life of the URD until 2040 in order to complete these and other additional projects. All this, and it won’t cost you, the taxpayer, a single dime. If the program is terminated as scheduled, you won’t get a reduction in property taxes, so why bother, why not let it ride? Well, you know that old saying, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Extending the Urban Renewal District program until 2040, or indefinitely, as some propose, breathes new life into the Pendleton Development Commission (PDC) and the overhead costs associated with administering the program. This allows city officials to continue borrowing money to complete existing and future planned projects they say residents are demanding, and using property taxes that fund the operations of various taxing districts to pay off the loans.

One of those taxing districts that must give up those taxes that effects all of us is, of course, the city and its general fund. Revenue destined for this fund is essentially rerouted to the PDC to repay those loans. It’s that old “rob Peter to pay Paul” shell game, which then requires those folks at city hall to institute higher water rates, utility fees, and gas taxes to make up the difference.

They say it won’t cost taxpayers a dime? Think again.

Rick Rohde


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