TVF&R seeks 5-year extension of tax levy
Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue is asking voters May 21 to renew its current local-option levy to maintain fire protection and emergency medical services to more than 500,000 people in its far-flung district.
The district extends from east Washington County into parts of Multnomah, Clackamas and Yamhill counties and covers 11 cities.
Measure 34-286 would renew the current levy of 45 cents per $1,000 of taxable value — for an average home with a taxable value of $300,000, that's $135 per year or $11.25 per month — for the next five-year cycle starting July 1, 2020.
The rate is unchanged from when voters approved it back in 2014. It is in addition to the district's permanent rate of $1.52 per $1,000, and excludes 11 cents for repayment of voter-approved bonds.
In the current tax year, which ends June 30, the local-option levy raised about $21.6 million.
The district gets virtually all of its money from property taxes.
Mail ballots must be in the hands of county elections officials by 8 p.m. May 21.
Local-option levies for the district began back in 2000, a few years after Oregon voters set statewide limits on property taxes. Except for the first one, voters have approved them by majorities of 60 percent or greater. The 2014 measure won two-thirds of the votes cast.
"As a board member, I have to say I am humbled by the kind of support we have gotten from our voters over the years," TVF&R Board President Clark Balfour said.
"But we do not take that support for granted. It is something we feel we have to work for every day. When our people are on the streets interacting with people, we try to make a bad situation into the best we can at that moment."
Failure of the levy would endanger the jobs of 92 of the 432 firefighters and others employed by TVF&R, although the district board would have time to refer another measure to voters before the current levy ends in mid-2020.
TVF&R also uses money from the levy to pay for hoses, firefighting tools and medical equipment.
The district operates 26 fire stations. Cities served are Beaverton, Durham, King City, North Plains, Rivergrove, Sherwood, Tigard, Tualatin, West Linn, Wilsonville — and since 2016, Newberg. Newberg and its rural fire district formally joined TVF&R by popular vote in 2017, and despite a petition to refer those actions to a districtwide election, TVF&R voters approved those annexations by 90 percent in 2018.
"What voters can expect is a continuation of what we have been doing," Balfour said.
"This levy will help us maintain our current level of service. That level comes from a rigorous process of determining how and when we deliver the right resources to the correct number of people. Then we make those commitments to staffing levels, equipment, stations trying to anticipate the needs of the community going forward."