LINCOLN COUNTY — Property owners in four Lincoln County taxing districts will decide the fate of separate measures on the May 18 special election ballot.
Two area fire districts and a water district are asking residents to either impose a new tax on residents or renew existing tax levies. One fire district wants voters to approve the issuing of general obligation bonds to finance operations.
On the ballot, North Lincoln Fire & Rescue District is asking to impose a $1.22 tax per $1,000 of assessed property value. The Kernville-Gleneden Beach-Lincoln Beach Water District looks to renew a levy of $.068 per $1,000 of assessed value, and the Seal Rock Rural Fire Protection District is asking to increase its current tax levy twofold.
The East Lincoln County Fire and Rescue District is asking residents to endorse the department issuing $2.4 millions in general obligation bonds to help construct a station house.
The office of Lincoln County Clerk Dana Jenkins is mailing the final batch of ballots today (Wednesday) to in-county registered voters. The following is a guide to each of the measures appearing on the ballots. Keep in mind that only residents who live in the specific taxing districts can vote on district measures — individual ballots sent in the mail will reflect this. To view a sample ballot that includes each the four measures, go to https://tinyurl.com/yeczxnum.
Measure 21-199 — North Lincoln Fire & Rescue District local option levy measure
Should district voters approve an imposed tax of $1.22 per $1,000 of assessed property value for five years beginning in the 2022-23 tax year, the district says it will help pay for the current staff of 13 firefighters and allow it to hire seven additional firefighters.
In addition, approval of Measure 21-199 would allow North Lincoln Fire to maintain its volunteer programs and assist in funding general operations. The district hopes to purchase and maintain personal protective equipment and repair and maintain district facilities.
The district’s current taxiing rate of $0.84 per $1,000 of assessed value doesn’t expire until June 30, 2022. The new rate, if approved, could increase residents’ property taxes to more than 3 percent.
“The district has seen a trend of increasing call volume and decreasing volunteer availability,” the ballot summary from the county’s voters’ pamphlet said. “Often several emergency calls occur at the same time. These tax revenues would allow the district to maintain sufficient staff to ensure that three firefighters are on duty at the Oceanlake Fire Station covering the north district and three firefighters at the Taft Fire Station covering the south district.”
According to the online voters’ pamphlet, the proposed rate is estimated to generate more than $3.16 million in 2022-23, more than $3.24 million the next year, about $3.32 million in 2024-25, $3.4 million in 2025-26 and nearly $3.5 million in the bond measure’s final year.
The district says that should the measure fail to pass, it will need to lay off 13 firefighters, which would increase response times.
Measure 21-200 — Renewal of the Kernville-Gleneden Beach-Lincoln Beach Water District local option tax
The water district is asking residents to renew its existing $0.68 per $1,000 of assessed property value local option tax levy lid to fund capital projects for five years, starting in the 2022-23 tax year. With the measure’s approval, the district’s budget committee could opt to impose a tax of less than $0.68 per $1,000 in each of the next five years if it sees fit. However, but the most it could collect — the tax-levy lid — would be the $0.68 per $1,000.
“The tax revenues from this measure would allow the district to continue to make capital improvements to meet current and future needs,” the district says in the measure’s summary. “Without renewal of the existing option tax, the only sources available to the district to make these capital improvements are to request voter approval of a bond issue or to increase user rates to fund the anticipated capital projects.”
The district’s board of directors, which composed the ballot measure’s explanatory statement, states that its six-year master plan calls for meter replacement to more accurately monitor water consumption and unaccounted water usage.
“It is estimated this measure would raise approximately $555,750 in tax revenues for 2022-2023, $572,423 in tax revenues for 2023- 2024, $589,596 in tax revenues for 2024-2025, $607,283 in tax revenues for 2025-2026, and $625,501 in tax revenues for 2026- 2027,” the district board says.
The district also says that if the measure doesn’t pass, it could “look at a substantial increase in user rates” or to issue bonds to pay for capital improvements.
Measure 21-201 — Authorization for East Lincoln County Fire District to issue $2.4 million in general obligation bonds
With voter approval, the district will issue general obligation bonds for capital costs of a new fire station.
The bonds would mature in 30 years or fewer from the date they’re issued, and the district would have the option to issue bonds at once or in a series. The district, established in 1958, serves 55 square miles surrounding the city of Toledo.
“The district has already obtained and developed property for a fire station,” reads an explanatory statement issued by William Ewing, district manager. “This measure would provide funds needed to build and equip a fire station on the property.”
The department says passage of the measure will allow it to increase capacity for major natural events, such as an earthquake, address local 911 issues on a regular basis, support a station that serves as a response and recovery facility following a natural disaster and as an outlet for community support.
Bond repayment would come through taxes, estimated by the district at $0.41 per $1,000 of assessed property value. That rate could vary based on interest rates and unexpected revisions to assessed property value.
“Highway accidents occur within the district boundaries, including on Highway 20 from Fruitvale Road to Cline Hill,” Ewing wrote. “This fire station would also enhance response capabilities allowing for a timelier response to incidents on much of the highway corridor.”
Measure 21-202 — Replacement of the Seal Rock Rural Fire Protection District local option tax levy
The district requests taxpayers approve doubling the current local option tax to $0.80 per $1,000 of assessed property value for a five-year period, beginning in the 2022-23 tax year. The current $0.40 per assessed property value doesn’t expire until June 30, 2022.
“This levy is needed to maintain current levels of personnel and continue district operations, such as responding to medical calls, motor vehicle accidents, structure fires and technical rescue responses, as well as to add additional firefighters to achieve safe staffing levels,” wrote Seal Rock Fire Board Chair Tina Fritz in the measure’s explanatory statement. “Additional staffing will allow SRFD to better comply with national standards for minimum number of firefighters to be on scene of structure fires.”
Fritz says that should voters reject the measure, the district “will need to drastically reduces services” as soon as July 2022.
An argument in opposition of the
measure, written by Paul Highfill, a former Seal Rock Rural Fire Protection District assistant chief and volunteer firefighter who served 33 years with the department, says the district needs to better justify increasing residents’ property taxes.
“Before taxpayers are asked for more funding, the district needs to have a comprehensive monetary, multi-year plan and prove all avenues for firefighter coverage have been exhausted,” Highfill wrote. “A plan for recruitment and retention of volunteers, the backbone of this fire department is essential. We pay a full time chief to accomplish this goal.”
With approval, the measure is expected to generate more than $465,000 in tax year 2022-23, which would increase to an estimated $527,462 in the levy’s final tax year, 2026-27.