News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

Election 2023: Gates Fire District levy appears to be in limbo

Measure 24-483, the extension of a property tax levy for the Gates Rural Fire Protection District, was easily passing Tuesday night.

Whether the new measure goes into effect July 1 as planned is another matter. Marion County voters’ pamphlet information on the measure was incorrect, with election officials speculating that a new election or some other means likely will be used to solve the problem.

The problem is that the voters’ pamphlet said that the rate for the extended levy would be 90.33 cents per $100,000 of assessed value. Such calculations are almost always done on the basis of $1,000 in assessed value. 

Fire Chief Jack Carriger confirmed the mistake in an email exchange with The Canyon Weekly and said he has reached out to elections officials about the issue. At $1,000 of assessed value the owner of a $300,000 home would pay approximately $270 per year. At $100,000 the tax would be just $2.70 per year, far below what would be needed to pay for the services the levy hopes to preserve. 

According to early election returns from Marion County and Linn County, the measure was passing with 79 percent voting in favor. The margin was 64-17 in Linn and 56-15 in Marion. 

The four-year levy, which is scheduled to run through June 2027, is intended to raise approximately $272,000 while assessing district property owners at the same rate as the expiring levy.

The funds are scheduled to pay for operating costs for the district’s emergency services as well as the upgrade of district vehicles and equipment.

The levy is scheduled to raise $65,561 in 2023-24, $67,200 in 2024-25, $68,880 in 2025-26 and $70,602 in 2026-27.

Meanwhile, The Santiam Canyon School District and Mill City Rural Fire Protection District must wait on write-in results to see who won all seats on their boards following the election.

Positions 1 and 3 for the school district, and positions 1 and 5 for the fire district, saw no candidates file. The seats are expected to go to the write-in candidate who receives the most votes.

School district candidate Mary Richards, and fire district candidates Scott Stewart and Michael Erdman, ran unopposed for the remaining open seats.

Because write-in votes must be physically counted to record the candidate’s name, such results take longer to publish than traditional election data.

The Marion County Clerk’s Office said they planned to publish preliminary write-in results as early as May 18. The Linn County Clerk’s Office said they may not publish write-in results until the week of June 5 due to the possibility that ballot challenges could impact the outcome.

If a write-in candidate receives the highest number of votes the person still must be eligible to hold office in order to serve, including being registered to vote within the appropriate district. If the person chooses to accept the office, paperwork must be filed with the corresponding district to make it official.

Because both districts cover more than one county, the most complete election results will be available through the Oregon Secretary of State’s office at sos.oregon.gov/voting-elections.

Here is a look at winners of Santiam Canyon races which were uncontested:

Lyons-Mehama Water District: Doug Kelly (position 1) and Mike Walz (position 3) ran unopposed and were elected.

Lyons Rural Fire Protection District: Cindy Wagner (position 1), Tiffany Silbernagel (position 4) and Gary Rychard (position 5) ran unopposed and were elected.

Santiam Water Control District: Steven Keudell (position 5), David Dalke (position 6) and Steve Schelske (position 7) ran unopposed and were elected.

Idanha-Detroit Rural Fire Protection District: Brandon Hamilton (position 1), Teresa Maurmann (position 2), Serena Morones (position 3), Gregory Dyke (position 4) and Matthew Lofton (position 5) ran unopposed and were elected.

Gates Rural Fire Protection District: Carol Swanson (position 1), Alexis Winn (position 4) and John Schaer (position 5) ran unopposed and were elected. 

Scio School District: Kerri Hyde, position 1 and board chair, and Anber Nelson ran unopposed and were elected. 

Scio Rural Fire Protection District: Katrina Clouse (position 3) and Paul Dykast (position 4) ran unopposed and were elected.

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