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

Election 2023: Gates fire levy issue appears headed to resolution

It looks like voters in the Gates area won’t be faced with voting again on the extension of their fire levy.

Gates Rural Fire Protection District Chief Jack Carriger told The Canyon Weekly that he is working with the Special Districts Association of Oregon (SDAO) on the May 16 election aftermath and “from what I’m told I don’t think it is going to be a difficult issue to resolve.”

The issue is that although district voters overwhelmingly backed Measure 24-483, with more than 77 percent support (128 votes to 37), the terms of the levy were listed incorrectly in the voting pamphlet. As published the voting guide said that the rate for the extended levy would be 90.33 cents per $100,000 of assessed value. The rate was intended to be on the basis of $1,000 in assessed value. 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. 

“Evidently, I am not the first one to have this issue,” Carriger said. “In fact, it has happened often enough that the legislature has passed laws developing a process on how to deal with it. I’m waiting to hear back from SDAO’s legal department to get the process started. I am told by others who have had similar issues that the process is fairly basic and that SDAO provides the service to their members.”

The four-year levy, which takes effect July and 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 the 2023-24 fiscal year, $67,200 in 2024-25, $68,880 in 2025-26 and $70,602 in 2026-27.

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