Only 25 Crook County voters will be deciding on Measure 9-95

This November, the Crook County Clerk's Office will mail out ballots, but their mailing list will only consist of 25 voters.

In Alfalfa, a small community near the Crook and Deschutes County border, residents are trying to form a new fire district. Consequently, they filed for Ballot Measure 9-95, which establishes the district as well as a tax of $1.75 per thousand dollars of assessed value to support it.

Those who spearheaded the effort filed in Deschutes County, but wanted to include their Crook County neighbors.

“We didn’t want coverage to stop at the border,” said Alfalfa resident Bob Kathman.

As a result, about 600 Deschutes County voters and 25 from Crook County will decide the fate of the measure.

“We don’t have a lot of that happen here because we are a single-district county, but it does happen a lot in larger counties,” said Crook County Clerk Dee Berman.

Kathman said that the community receives ambulance coverage, but not fire. Consequently, the community has endured some fires without coverage throughout the years, which has prompted interest in forming a fire district. However, they have never taken the step of putting a measure on the ballot because of limited community support.

Kathman explained that in the past, some residents expressed concerns regarding possible taxation inequities. Lately, those concerns have waned, leading Kathman and others to believe that Alfalfa residents would support the measure.

According to the Deschutes County 2013 Special Election Voters’ Pamphlet, “The purpose of the proposed special fire district is to organize for rural fire protection for property within the district, enter into mutual aid agreements, apply for grants, train members, educate the public, purchase and maintain equipment, land, and structures as required for operating a fire district and department.”

Forming the district will include the election of a board in which five members will serve four-year staggered terms. Although the measure would authorize a tax limit of $1.75 per thousand dollars of assessed values, “the district need not levy the full amount of the permanent tax rate in any given year . . . The district governing body will determine the amount to levy each year based upon the fiscal budget approved each year by the budget committee.”

If approved, the tax would not be levied until the 2014-15 tax year, and is expected to raise about $101,092 in operating funds.

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