Voters reject Clackamas fuel tax, but renew sheriff's levy and pass marijuana sales tax
Levy would extend jail services for five years; tax on pot funds zoning and law enforcement, public health
Clackamas County voters Tuesday decisively rejected a 6-cent fuel tax for road maintenance, but easily renewed a levy for sheriff's operations and passed a 3 percent tax on retail sales of marijuana.
The fuel tax was going down by more than 60 percent in incomplete returns, but the others passed by 3-to-1 majorities.
None of the three measures drew organized opposition, but the sheriff's levy was making its third appearance on the countywide ballot in a decade, and the marijuana sales tax also was on ballots in seven cities.
Voters did approve an advisory measure in the May 17 primary for the county to seek voter-approved funding for road work, but it did not specify a source of money.
Measure 3-509 was the fuel tax; Measure 3-502 the sheriff's levy, and Measure 3-510 the marijuana tax.
Measure 3-502 extends for five years, starting in mid-2017, a tax of 24.8 cents per $1,000 of value for sheriffs operations. Voters approved the original tax in 2006 and renewed it in 2011.
The current countywide tax generates about $10.7 million that pays for 31 deputies at the jail in Oregon City, plus 18 patrol deputies and nine detectives.
There was no organized opposition to the measure.
A separate tax, which was not on Tuesdays ballot, is paid by property owners within a special district for sheriffs patrols outside cities.
Failure of Measure 3-502 could have led to closure of 86 of the 465 beds at the jail.
If the tax rate were applied to this years taxable value of an average home, it would cost the property owner about $67.
Measure 3-510 imposes a tax of 3 percent on retail sales of marijuana for recreational use.
The tax would start in March. It does not apply to medical marijuana. Although the tax was voted on countywide, it applies only to sales outside cities. Seven cities within the county had similar measures up for a vote.
There was no organized support or opposition to the measure.
The tax was projected to generate $180,000 annually, proceeds to be spent on zoning enforcement the county approved an extensive ordinance regulating commercial marijuana last year law enforcement and public health.
Oregons legalization measure that voters approved in 2014 limits access to marijuana to adults 21 and older.
Measure 3-509 would have imposed a tax of 6 cents per gallon of gasoline sold countywide during the next seven years for road work.
Proceeds would have been split 60 percent for the county which pledged its annual share of $5.4 million for 47 specific maintenance projects around the county and 40 percent for cities based on population.
County officials say that 54 percent of the 1,400 miles of paved roads maintained by the county are in fair or poor condition. Reconstruction of damaged roads costs far more by a factor of 13 than routine maintenance.
Oregon law requires fuel taxes to be spent on roads and bridges.
Based on average fuel use as calculated by the Oregon Department of Transportation, the tax would cost the average motorist $22.56 annually.
Clackamas County would have joined Multnomah County (3 cents) and Washington County (1 cent) with local fuel taxes, which also are imposed in more than two dozen Oregon cities, among them Canby, Happy Valley, Milwaukie and Sandy.
New or higher fuel taxes require voter approval under a 2009 state law. A few have done so since then, among them Portland, where a four-year, 10-cent tax was approved May 17 and took effect in September.
For comprehensive coverage, go to PoliticalOregon.com
Updates with second election report, although trends remain consistent with initial returns.