Snider: Open letter to the Tigard community about public safety
- Mayor Jason Snider and City Councilors Tom Anderson, John Goodhouse, Heidi Lueb and Liz Newton
We hope this finds you and your family safe and healthy during this uncertain and stressful time. The COVID-19 virus brings challenges to our health, jobs and finances. We are so grateful to our first responders, health care professionals and workers keeping essential businesses operating. To all of you who are observing social distancing to keep the community healthy — we see you and we thank you!
When you call 9-1-1, our dedicated police officers want to respond as quickly as possible. But Tigard is growing. This means more calls for service. We live in a safe community, but officers are responding to a significantly increasing number of calls to help those in crisis.
The types of calls our officers are responding to are also changing. Assisting those in crisis involving mental health, substance abuse or other challenging behaviors takes time, patience and training to effectively de-escalate the situation.
With our currently funded staffing levels, officers frequently can't respond to multiple critical calls happening simultaneously. The rising trend in crisis calls increases officer workload and diverts limited resources from neighborhood patrols. An increase in police staffing will reduce response times and allow officers more time to proactively address neighborhood concerns.
Tigard has one of the lowest permanent property tax rates in Washington County. Property taxes make up a significant portion of the general fund — the only revenue source available to pay for police services. By state law, property taxes can only increase 3% per year. Expenses, on average, increase about 4% each year.
Despite recent budget reductions, revenue doesn't keep pace with increasing costs. Additional revenue from new community members contributes to filling the gap between the increase in revenue and larger increase in expenses. Simply put, it's not enough revenue to fill the gap or allow us to hire more officers.
Funding from this levy would be dedicated to adding an additional eight patrol officers to respond to increased calls for service, multiple emergency calls at the same time, and neighborhood patrols. It would also add one school resource officer to enhance student safety. And perhaps most importantly, it would train all sworn officers in advanced crisis intervention and de-escalation to assist those in crisis.
The increase in property taxes would be $0.29 per $1,000 of assessed value. On a home with a real market value of $447,000 and an assessed value of $280,000; the tax increase would be approximately $81 per year, about $6.75 per month.
Please join us to support the men and women of the Tigard Police Department.
A global pandemic was not anticipated when we referred this measure to the ballot. We understand it is a difficult time to vote to increase property taxes for police services during this uncertainty. However, as calls to assist those in crisis and experiencing domestic violence increase, it is even more critical now that we have an adequate and well-trained police force to keep our community safe.
We urge you to invest in our future. Vote yes on Measure 34-295.
Jason Snider is mayor of Tigard. Tom Anderson, John Goodhouse, Heidi Lueb and Liz Newton are Tigard city councilors.
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