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Measure allowing voters say on future taxes headed to ballot


Former mayor collects enough signatures to get the measure on the May ballot

Bill MiddletonSherwood voters will have the final say on a controversial ballot measure that would force a public vote on any new taxes raised in the city.

Sherwood’s former mayor, Bill Middleton, has collected enough valid signatures on his initiative petition, which would require a voter approval on all future city taxes, fees and charges.

According to the Washington County Elections office, Middleton submitted 1,564 validated signatures. He needed 1,528 signatures to get the measure on the May 17 ballot.

Middleton had started collecting signatures for the ballot, but approached the Sherwood City Council last year about placing his initiative before voters. The council voted against that plan in August 5-2.

As a result, Middleton went out and finished collecting the needed signatures. 

“It took about four months to get the signatures, collecting mainly on the weekends,” Middleton said Monday night. “The vast majority of people we contacted signed it — we estimated 90 percent — with the main problem being (we contacted) a lot of unregistered voters.”

Middleton said that many unregistered he spoke with said they were going to register to vote in order to approve the measure, he added.

If approved, the vote would require “double majority voter approval" – more than 50 percent voter turnout and more than 50 percent approval – on any new or increased taxes, charges or fees on residential properties.

Middleton, who served as mayor from 2012 to 2014, told the council last year that he was frustrated with city taxes and fee increases, and noted that water rates have increased astronomically as well since 2005.

Middleton first began working on the plan two years ago. He told The Sherwood Gazette in 2014 that he felt voters would want to have final say on how much they spend in taxes.  “Nobody will vote for new taxes,” he said.

City councilors have said they aren’t in favor of the plan, saying that many taxes Sherwood residents pay aren’t under the jurisdiction of the city. 

The measure was challenged by Councilor Linda Henderson early last year, who wanted language in the initiative petition clarified.

A judge later said the measure could move forward.

Councilors can’t stop the measure from going before voters, but they can prepare a competing ballot measure to run alongside it.