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The tax rate this year isn't increasing despite Hillsboro's growth. Voters ought to approve the renewal.

Editor's note: Endorsements are made by the Editorial Board and reflect the opinion of Pamplin Media Group editors and publishers. Letters to the editor and other submitted opinion pieces will be considered for publication without regard to the official editorial stance or endorsements made by the Editorial Board.

PMG FILE PHOTO - A view of the Hillsboro Civic Center from the roof of the Washington County Public Services Building.This is a very straightforward proposition facing Hillsboro voters.

Since 1998, Hillsboro voters have been approving an operating levy that provides critical funding for police, fire and parks maintenance in Hillsboro. The levy amount has only increased once, in 2006, and despite Hillsboro's growth since then, city officials say they were comfortable going out for a levy renewal — keeping the rate the same from when voters approved it last — rather than asking for an increase this year.

Now, it's true that since the start of 2021, all three of the Hillsboro city departments the levy helps to pay for — Hillsboro Fire & Rescue, the Hillsboro Police Department, and Hillsboro Parks & Recreation — have been the subject of legal complaints from current or former employees, alleging discrimination and/or retaliation by superiors. You may have read some of that coverage in this newspaper. Whether they are substantiated or not through a legal process, those complaints have raised issues that city leaders must address in a way that restores trust and holds bad actors accountable.

It's also true that Hillsboro is a city of well over 100,000 people now, with all the needs that a midsize modern American city has. Residents need to be able to count on prompt service when they call 9-1-1. Their children should be able to play in safe, clean city parks. Emergency responders should be equipped with top-of-the-line gear for their own safety, as this newspaper detailed in a report last year on firefighters' elevated risk of cancer.

No one likes paying taxes, but as the axiom goes, they're the price we pay for living in a civilized society. Hillsboro is unique among local jurisdictions this spring in that it is merely asking voters to re-authorize what they have already been agreeing to pay in taxes to support essential city services.

We recommend "yes" on Measure 34-311 to keep Hillsboro's budgets stable and Hillsboro's residents safe.


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