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Voters likely to see sheriffs levy on May ballot

Voters in Washington County's urban unincorporated area will likely see a five-year, $47.5 million enhanced sheriff patrol district levy on their May ballots.

On Tuesday, the Washington County Board of Commissioners held a public hearing on the proposed levy with plans to have staff prepare a draft ballot.

That ballot will return to the board on Feb. 5 for consideration with plans to send it to voters in the May 20 election, according to Philip Bransford, a Washington County administrative office spokesman.

At issue is providing an average of .54 deputies per 1,000 residents in areas including Aloha, Bethany, Bull Mountain, Bonnie Slope, Cedar Hills, Cedar Mill, Cooper Mountain, Garden Home, Metzger, Oak Hills, Reedville, Rock Creek, Terra Linda and other urban areas in the county that are outside cities.

Cost for the proposed levy, which would provide $9.5 million annually for five years, is estimated at 63 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

The current five-year enhanced levy costs 49 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation and expires June 30.

Voters first approved enhanced sheriff's levies in 1987. Since then, five consecutive levies supporting expanded services have passed.

The only glitch was a May 2002 levy that failed to garner a required double majority vote. That levy later passed.

"This one would require a double majority (too)," said Bransford.

The levy would provide funding to help investigate major crimes such as homicide, assault, burglary and domestic violence in the enhanced areas, officials say.