We've often lamented that Oregon's hobbled tax system requires most local governments to go out and beg every four or five years for the money needed to provide basic services.
Such serial levies, as they are known, create budgeting uncertainties and needless expenses. But, we admit that they do serve the laudable purpose of requiring public officials to regularly go out and explain what they do and why it costs so much. The levies, in effect, become a referendum on local government services.
Based on last Tuesday's results, residents of western Washington County are pretty happy with what they're getting. In both Hillsboro and Forest Grove, voters overwhelmingly approved a request to fund basic municipal services for another five years. In Hillsboro a staggering 78 percent of the voters approved a measure to fund police, fire and parks. In Forest Grove, where the funding also extends to library services, the 'yes' vote was an impressive 60 percent.
That sentiment also appears to have prevailed (though narrowly) in the Banks School District, where as of Tuesday, the 'yes' votes on a bond measure for school repairs were slightly ahead of the 'no' votes.
In a political climate in which Tea Partisans continue to campaign against virtually all forms of government spending, the results on the local levies indicate that voters can see beyond anti-tax slogans.
They understand that the free market has its limits. It costs money to have a paramedic stationed three minutes from their house, a soccer field in their neighborhood, a fully-staffed library down the street and a working furnace in their school.
And, they're willing to raise their taxes to pay for them.