Salem Infrastructure Bond

​Council Steering Committee

The City Council Steering Committee for Infrastructure Bond Engagement provides guidance on developing the ballot measure that will be before City Council in August 2022 for action, and, if approved, Salem voters in November 2022. Community engagement on the proposal and potential projects is needed.  The Steering Committee will help guide engagement and the criteria to include projects in the building of the bond package, and make recommendations to the City Council regarding the bond measure scope. 

The Council Steering Committee conducts open, public meetings beginning in December 2021 to:

  • Guide outreach and engagement strategy
  • Make recommendations to City Council regarding the bond measure scope and criteria for prioritization
  • Consider and recommend strategies on how best to provide accountability on bond spending, should measure be successful in November 2022

Type of appointment: Mayoral appointment

Number of members: 4 - Mayor Bennett appointed Councilors Gonzalez, Hoy, Lewis, and Stapleton to serve with him on this committee of the City Council. 

Length of term: None

Meeting agendas and minutes

December 3, beginning at 1 pm, the Steering Committee will meet for the first time.  This meeting will be featured and live-streamed on the City of Salem's YouTube Channel.

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DateDocument TitleLink To Audio Minutes (MP3)Link To Audio Minutes (WMA)

​What is the infrastructure bond proposal?

The City Council is considering an infrastructure bond measure for the November 2022 ballot that would provide up to $300 million in projects without an anticipated increase to the City's targeted tax levy rate for bonds.

The City has approximately $2 billion of infrastructure assets that need routine maintenance, improvements and expansion. Due to previous bonds expiring over the next several years, the City is in a unique position to issue $300 million in general obligation bonds over the next 10 years keeping a level tax levy rate at no more than $1.28 per $1,000 of assessed property value.  The general obligation bond measure requires voter approval.

The long-term bonding strategy, as recommended by the Finance Committee and approved by the City Council in October 2021, addresses four basic premises:

  • Maintain a consistent levy rate for taxpayers over a set period.
  • Issue debt in a timely and strategic manner.
  • Decrease ongoing expenses related to deferred maintenance.
  • Provide new investment for community benefit, with City Council and community oversight.

The most urgent bond-eligible need is replacement of the City's fire trucks and apparatus, and equipment.  Following the investment in fire protection, project categories are streets, bridges, and sidewalks; parks and recreation facilities; affordable housing and shelter; public facilities; and information technology infrastructure.  Many of these priority spending areas will be defined through community engagement. 

Why a bond?

Like other local governments, the City of Salem issues bonds to pay for expensive infrastructure. Bonds must be approved by voters and are paid back with property taxes. This is almost like a homeowner taking out loan to make improvements to their home. Some of the City's existing bonds will be completely paid back in the next several years.

What can we fund with a general obligation bond?

Bonds can only be spent on capital costs, defined as the cost of land and "other assets having a useful life of more than one year, including costs associated with acquisition, construction, improvement, remodeling, furnishing, equipping, maintenance and repair" but excludes expenditures of "routine maintenance or supplies" (Oregon Constitution, Article XI, Section 11L).

We're planning ahead – for the next 10 years – for our capital project needs, positioning City-owned infrastructure and facilities for years to come.

What's Next?

December 2021/January 2022

  • Steering Committee meets to consider principles to guide prioritization of projects and criteria for inclusion in the measure.  These criteria may include:
    • Readiness – can it be accomplished within the timeframe
    • Scale-ability
    • Distribution across City
    • Relative funding among project categories

January/February 2022

  • Community engagement on priorities for inclusion in bond measure, to create community-inspired project list, followed by polling

February 22, 2022

  • City Council Work Session on community feedback for bond priorities, and
  • City Council direct staff to prepare for November 2022 ballot measure for City Council's consideration.

Many of the amounts shown for each category are flexible and projects within the categories can be scaled to community need. 

Result AreaCategoryAmount  (in millions)Fixed or Scalable
Safe CommunityFire Apparatus and Equipment$  26Fixed
Strong and Diverse Economy; Welcoming and Livable CommunityHousing and Sheltering Investments$  15Scalable
Safe, Reliable, and Efficient InfrastructureStreets, Bridges, and Sidewalks$ 150Scalable
Welcoming and Livable Community; Natural Environment StewardshipParks and Recreation$   35Scalable
Good GovernanceInformation Technology Investments$   15Fixed
Good GovernancePublic Building Improvements$   12Fixed
Safe CommunityFire Stations$   14Fixed


  • Fire apparatus and equipment is the first priority for this potential bond funding.  Last purchased following the successful November 2006 bond, Salem's fire engines, ladder trucks, and other specialized response vehicles are in dire need of replacement.  If one of these pieces of equipment requires maintenance, it is taken out of service - potentially delaying our response to a community member in need. 
  • Housing and sheltering investments.  The intent with this funding would be to continue property acquisition and/or construction for additional affordable housing and emergency or temporary shelter for those in need.
  • Streets, bridges and sidewalks.  Transportation infrastructure projects tend to be larger in scope and scale of investment. Salem's needs exceed the full scope of the proposed bond.  With input from the community, the City can develop a project list to improve streets to include sidewalks and bicycle facilities, construct new streets, replace and rehabilitate bridges, advance safer pedestrian crossing projects, and replace or add traffic signals.  Initial ideas may include improvements to McGilchrist Street SE, Doaks Ferry Road NW, Battle Creek Road SE, Browning Avenue S, Fisher Road NE, and Sunnyview Ave NE.    

In 2008 Salem voters approved a "Keep Salem Moving" $100 million bond to pay for more than 40 street and bridge projects to relieve congestion, improve safety, and rebuild or maintain pavement and bridges in Salem.  Using savings and leveraging other fund sources, the City was able to address additional transportation needs in our community, such as neighborhood sidewalk improvements, quiet zones, signal modifications, pedestrian crossings, and buffered bike lanes.  

  • Parks and recreation.  Major investments in Salem's parks and recreation facilities are needed.  Investments would include things like replacement of restroom facilities at Marion Square and Wallace Marine parks; and developing new shelters, tennis or pickleball courts, playgrounds, splash pads, dog parks and trails.  Parks with master plans, derived from community engagement in priorities for park facilities, would be good candidates for initial project lists.
  • Information technology.  Security upgrades are needed to the infrastructure the City relies on to provide services in our community. The types of investments would be redundant fiber and data warehouse, with replacement of aging enterprise technology for which there are no other funding sources.
  • Public building improvements. Much like the recently rehabilitated Salem Public Library, the City's Civic Center needs rehabilitation and repair to address seismic, safety, accessibility and system improvements.  Windows require replacement.  The skylight in the courtyard requires removal or replacement. The parking garage is no longer structurally sound.  The Civic Center lacks back-up power generation. This category may also include a portion of a new Willamette Valley Communications Center, a City service providing 9-1-1 dispatch to 29 police and fire agencies.
  • Future fire stations.  Planning now for future service needs in growing areas of our community, the City would look to acquire property for two new fire stations within next ten years. 

Contact us

City Manager's Office
8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
555 Liberty St SE RM 220
Salem OR 97301