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The measure submitted by Commissioner Amanda Fritz calls for ratepayer funds to be used for 'incidental' uses.

FILE - A large water tank sits unused on .34 acres in SW Portland. Portland voters have narrowly given the thumbs down to Portland Measure 26-219, which would have changed the rules for how the city's Water Bureau spends funds collected from their quarterly bills to customers.

The race is likely too close to call, however, as not all votes have been tallied.

The proposal submitted to the ballot by Commissioner Amanda Fritz appears to be failing with 51% of the voters rejecting the idea, according to early returns on election night, Nov 3.

Fritz proposed the measure to amend the city charter, which previously restricted ratepayer funds to pay only for the cost of providing water, either from the Bull Run watershed or a groundwater network called the Columbia South Shore Well Field.

The measure amends the charter to explicitly allow for "incident uses," such as maintaining the green spaces and community gardens known as "hydro parks." Such parks are located on Water Bureau land in Dodge Park and at the Powell Butte Natural Area.

In October 2019, the water bureau was ordered by a judge to repay some $6.6 million from the water fund after money was improperly used to refurbished a downtown building used by the Portland Rose Festival and the visitor center at Powell Butte. The lawsuit was brought by attorney John DiLorenzo.

This is breaking news story. Check back for updates.

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