by Katy Brooks, CEO & President, Bend Chamber

As we approach the halfway mark of 2024, a bevy of new laws and policies will go into effect starting July 1. On the local level, businesses and residents will see a new fee on monthly City of Bend utility bills for a Transportation Utility Fee (TUF). This new fee will be assessed on both residential and commercial utility accounts as a mechanism to pay for street operations and maintenance.  Residential customers can expect to pay $5.60/month for a single-family home, while multi-family dwellings will pay $4.15 per unit. Commercial customers will be assessed based on footprint (square foot) of the business in year one, with further refinement of the fee in future years.

While recognizing the need to invest in roads and other infrastructure we need, the Bend Chamber was a strong advocate for a thoughtful, phased approach that slowed the impacts and allowed for checks and balances. The chamber supported a three-year phased in approach to the new TUF and helped shape the current policy with advocacy efforts. Additionally, through work with the Bend Economic Development Advisory Board (BEDAB) further refinement of the commercial fee structure will be implemented in future years as businesses will be assessed based on their footprint as well as impact on the transportation system based on business activities. These modifications as well as frequent check-ins and data on revenue and expenditures serve as a check and balance on the new fee.

If you are planning on building in Bend, the new System Development Charges (SDCs) will impact your project cost as SDCs are slated to increase, primarily for Transportation assessments.  The City of Bend pays for growth related infrastructure (water, wastewater and transportation) via SDC charges assessed for both new construction and change of use for existing buildings.  Again, the Chamber played an active role in the new methodology that defines the fee structure.  Advocating for a phased-in approach if the year-to-year increase is above 20% and 50% respectively.  Acknowledging Bend’s rapid growth yet implementing a fee schedule that businesses can plan for was the Chamber’s primary objective.

Throughout the process the Chamber has pressed the point that these and other new city fees associated with permit activities and business licensure have a cumulative impact on Bend’s business climate.  Revenue generation tools available to the city are limited and we have seen unprecedented growth, making the city’s fiscal challenges more acute. As we look forward, the Chamber will continue to advocate on behalf of our business community for a fair, transparent and predictable process when evaluating and implementing new fee structures.

For more information on the Transportation Utility Fee, click here.

For more information on System Development Changes, click here.

Katy Brooks, CEO & President, Bend Chamber