Coos Bay looking at costly repairs: Who's going to pay?

COOS BAY, Ore. -- Right now, City of Coos Bay officials are torn between trying to upgrade the city's infrastructure and having to take money out of resident's pockets to make that happen.

Streets need fixed, and the city's waste water system is so outdated that some pipes are still wooden.

In others, groundwater is leaking into them.

The city asked residents for ideas, hosting town hall meetings this week.

Rodger Craddock, the Coos Bay city manager, says they want the people of Coos Bay to be able to give input and share their ideas. "To talk about what the community wants to do, and what their preferences are."

The cost for the street repairs still need to be assessed.

A decade ago it was $25 million.

City officials say if they wait any longer that number will only go up.

If the waste water system isn't fixed soon, the city is looking at fines from the federal government.

Fixing those issues is going to cost an estimated $82 million.

Some residents say they want these problems fixed, but nobody wants to shell out the extra money. "It's fairly unanimous, no one wants to pay any more money," said Craddock. "At the same time, they realize there's need."

Options on the table include a city gas tax, utility fees or fees for new developers. "If we use a general obligation bond, then some of our biggest users might not have to pay because they're non-profits or they're government entities, and they wouldn't pay taxes," he said.

The two meetings that were held this week are just the first in a series of community conversations to try and figure out what to do before things get worse.