Happy Valley voters approve public safety levy
Voters of Happy Valley overwhelmingly renewed a public safety levy for the fifth time by about 78 percent in unofficial Nov. 5 election results.
Approval of this levy through June 2025 will not increase Happy Valley property tax bills supplying police funding at a rate of $1.38 per $1,000 of assessed property value since 2002.
"Thank you to everyone who voted in support of our Happy Valley Police Department," said Mayor Tom Ellis. "As we move forward and renew our contract, the city is committed to again working collaboratively with the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office to ensure quality safety services for all our residents."
Watching the election results come in, City Councilor David Emami was relieved to see the strong support from voters.
"Even though for us it's a no-brainer, we didn't want to take anything for granted, especially with what's happened before, so we were out in full force pounding the pavement for every vote," Emami said on election night.
Along with members of Happy Valley City Council, Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts helped rally citizens behind this week's renewal of the levy between 2020 and 2025, saying that without the city's contract for police services, CCSO would not have staffing or resources to provide dedicated patrol for the city. Roberts noted CCSO does not provide dedicated policing to unincorporated areas of the county, where its budget allows for response to calls involving life-threatening safety, when available.
"The dedicated police services provided to the city of Happy Valley would simply not be possible without the public safety levy and would be unable to continue without the contract that is currently in place," Roberts wrote in a recent message to voters.
In 2014, an attempt to increase the funding for police in Happy Valley for the years between 2015 and 2020 resulted in the closest election result in Oregon history. That year Happy Valley voters — by a single vote — rejected a local option levy to pay for public safety at a proposed higher tax rate of $1.65 per $1,000 of assessed value. The vote meant that Happy Valley funds for dedicated police service would have run out in November 2015, but 82 percent of voters approved a renewal measure in May 2015.
After the 2014 vote, city officials went back to the drawing board and determined that a simple renewal would keep adequate police services, given the increased tax base of the expanding city. City officials have since proposed a state law to allow for the creation of a dedicated police taxing district, but in the absence of action by the Oregon Legislature, the serial renewals are still necessary for dedicated police services.
In 2019, voters in Clackamas County seem like they're OK with renewing taxes already in place, including a quarter of a cent per $1,000 of assessed property value for preventing mosquito-borne diseases through the Clackamas County Vector Control District since 2004. With a vector-control levy renewal also passing easily in the Nov. 5 election, it is estimated this tax will cost the owner of a home with an assessed value of $300,000 about $7.50 per year over the next five years.
On Nov. 5, Clackamas County voters additionally supported a Metro measure to renew bond funds for natural areas, including $20 million for construction of a public walkway to Willamette Falls.
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