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Voters living in urban areas just outside incorporated cities should vote 'yes' in the May 20 vote-by-mail election to continue funding for Washington County's successful enhanced sheriff patrol district.

For more than 20 years, the enhanced patrol district has been one of the best deals around and an essential component of public safety in neighborhoods that are located just outside major cities such as Beaverton, Tigard or Tualatin. The levy, which was first adopted by voters in 1987, provides funding for additional county deputies to patrol neighborhoods and provide matching law enforcement services typically found within a city.

The question before voters residing in these neighborhoods is whether to approve a five-year local option levy that would cost approximately 63 cents per $1,000 assessed valuation and raise a total of $47.5 million? The affected areas include Aloha, Bethany, Bull Mountain, Cedar Hills, Cedar Mill, Claremont, Cooper Mountain, Garden Home, Metzger, Oak Hills, Reedville, Rock Creek, Sommerset, Terra Linda and West Slope.

Continuing the current levy will enable the county to maintain current services and add some additional deputies to keep up with population growth in the urban neighborhoods. The funding would allow the county to have deputies to serve the target neighborhoods with regular patrols, emergency response services, as well as investigations into domestic violence, burglary and gang activities.

Voters in the enhanced sheriff patrol neighborhoods have consistently supported the levy in past elections by more than a 60-percent margin.

Yet in a declining economy, we understand there is no guarantee such support will be continued. We believe that voters should not take their own safety - or that of their neighbors - for granted. Without the levy, county Sheriff Rob Gordon would have to either lay off deputies, borrow funds on the hope of winning voter approval of the levy in November or divert funds from other service areas.

We don't think any of those alternatives are good ones.

We think that voters, when reminded of the levy's benefits and its public safety value within their own neighborhoods, will say 'yes' to continue to fund the enhanced sheriff's patrol district in the May 20 election.

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