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On Tuesday, the Tigard City Council approved sending an operating and capital improvement levy believed to be the first ever.

COURTESY CITY OF TIGARD - The city of Tigard will send a $7.8 million operating and capital improvement levy to voters in May.The city of Tigard will send a $7.8 million operating and capital improvement levy to voters in May, the Tigard City Council agreed Tuesday night.

The top levy dollar amount – a planned $1.4 million – would go towards police service funding.

The levy rate proposed is $1.18 per $1,000 of assessed value. For a median priced home assessed with a value of $250,000, the impact of the levy would be $295 per year.

City Manager Marty Wine has told the council that the city has an unstainable financial situation with revenues growing an average of 3 percent annually while city growth costs have been growing at 4 percent. State law limits how much property tax revenues can grow.

She said plans are to ask for major reductions in all general fund services when she delivers her budget message in April. However, the operating levy would restore some of those cuts and enhance many services as well.

Topping the list of services would be using $1.4 million (an amount that initially began at $800,000 earlier in the evening but was increased after discussion of the need for more officers) to reduce police response times, increase neighborhood patrols and maintain community policing.

Other services benefiting from the levy would be $750,000 going to build safe routes to schools, specifically new sidewalks, along with $300,000 going toward park maintenance.

Mayor John Cook said he has found that residents consider public safety, parks and safe sidewalks in their definition of what makes up a safe city.

While one resident expressed support for the measure, another said he questioned the wisdom of setting aside money to hire an affordable housing coordinator, a position that was pulled for the time being.

Another asked if the city had thought of alternative revenue sources such as red-light cameras. (The city is moving ahead with plans to look at installing such cameras, an issue expected to return to council later this year.)

At the same time, the city would spend $140,000 for annual performance and efficiency audits under the planned levy.

Councilor Marc Woodard was the lone vote not supporting sending the measure to voters at this time, saying he wants a city performance audit conducted beforehand, suggesting instead a local option levy be sent to voters in 2019.

The election is set for May 15 with ballots set to be mailed out beginning April 25.

Where the money would go

In the first year of the levy, the following investments in services would be made (in some cases this would preserve services that would be planned for reduction and also enhance services) according to City Manager Marty Wine:

Police (preserve and increase): $1.4 million

Park maintenance (increase): $300,000

Tigard Public Library (preserve): $435,000

Sidewalks and Safe Routes to School (new): $750,000

Community Emergency Response Team (preserve): $40,000

Community Services (preserve): $700,000

Levy Rate Stability Fund: $3.8 million

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