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Washington County voters support sheriff's levy

Measure 34-198 supports extra patrols in unincorporated, urban communities


Washington County Sheriff's Office personnel took a cautious sigh of relief Tuesday night as they watched the general election results unfold.

Washington County residents served by the Enhanced Sheriff's Patrol Districts supported Measure 34-198.

In unofficial early results, residents voted 27,922 in favor or nearly 53 percent to renew a five-year local option levy to support expanded patrols that have been in place since 1987. This proposal replaces a levy set to expire on June 30, 2013. As of 8 p.m., 25,003 voters or 47 percent opposed the funding measure.

The special sheriff’s districts primarily affect people within defined urban, unincorporated areas, including Aloha, Bethany, Bull Mountain, Cedar Hills, Cedar Mill, Cooper Mountain, Garden Home, Oak Hills, Metzger, Raleigh Hills and Rock Creek. But the districts also include numerous smaller neighborhoods and individual “island parcels” scattered inside city limits throughout the county. These areas are within the region’s urban growth boundary, but haven’t been annexed to a city. Instead, they receive their urban services through the county or through a combination of special service districts.

This proposal continues a levy that’s been in existence for 25 years. It also protects the jobs of about 60 deputies who focus their patrols within the enhanced districts, where they deal with the same types and levels of crime as police officers in neighboring Beaverton, Tigard and Hillsboro.

The cost of this levy is increasing slightly from the previous five-year levy. Property owners within the enhanced districts would pay 68 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, up 5 cents from 63 cents with the previous levy. The additional 5 cents per $1,000 will cost the typical homeowner about $12 more per year than he or she is paying now, bringing the bill to $156 for a home assessed at $230,000.

In return, the levy ensures that current law enforcement service levels will be maintained, even with projected population growth, said Sheriff Pat Garrett. The funds also support investigation of major crimes that occur within the unincorporated communities, including homicide, assault, burglary and domestic violence.