Our opinion: City has been a good steward of taxpayer funds; levy would support police, library, sidewalks, crosswalks.

It would be nice if cities in Oregon could spend money the way they see fit. Have a crisis? Divert money accordingly.

It doesn't work that way.

In Tigard, for instance, an annual budget of $139 million seems like a lot. But $102 million of that is restricted revenue: It must go for specific purposes, such as water and sewer maintenance, or capital projects like new pipes. The remaining $37 million goes into the general fund. And in this day and age, that money doesn't go as far as it used to.

In May, the city will ask voters to OK a local option levy to provide additional funds for the police department, library and parks maintenance.

We urge a "yes" vote.

The levy, if successful, would cost property owners $1.18 per $1,000 of assessed value. For the owner of a median-priced, $250,000 home (median meaning half the homes in Tigard cost more and half cost less), that would amount to about $300 per year.

We would support the levy for the additional benefits it would bring to the Tigard Police Department alone. The city is growing and will continue to grow for the foreseeable future. The police force of the last decade, or of the 1990s, will not be robust enough for the city of the very near future. Since 2012, emergency response times for Tigard Police have gone up from about 5.2 minutes to about 6.2 minutes. Why? Well, why has anyone's time on the streets of Tigard elongated these past years?

Traffic, pure and simple.

Police also respond to more calls for mental health crises than ever before. Calls for traffic accidents also are up; you'd expect that with more cars crowded onto a finite number of streets.

The Times wrote a story about the importance of school resource officers ("First Line of Defense," April 5) at a time when violence in schools is more and more a concern. But whenever resources are stretched in a police department, one of the first arguments to be heard is, "Put more cops on street patrol, even if you have to take them from other assignments." Such as school resource officers.

But beyond police, the levy also would provide maintenance for parks, playgrounds and nature areas; maintain current programs at the city library; construct new sidewalks and crosswalks; and increase the number of recreation programs offered in the city, according to a press release.

Tigard has been a good steward of the public's money. The city's property tax rate of $2.51 per $1,000 assessed value stacks up well against those of Beaverton ($4.38 per $1,000) or Hillsboro ($3.66 per $1,000). Nor does Tigard have vast swaths of industrial land, as does its neighbor Tualatin, from which to draw property tax funds.

According to a press release, the city's population increased by almost 10 percent between 2008 and 2017, while the city staff increased by 1 percent during the same period. (The Police Department's number of sworn positions decreased during those years.)

What do people love about Tigard? They love their library, their parks and their safety. They like the community activities offered by the city. In short, this levy is keyed to the very livability factors that draw people to Tigard.

The deadline for the mail-in election is Tuesday, May 15, and ballots should arrive around the first of the month.

We urge a "yes" vote on Measure 34-283.

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