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Unofficial results show the electorate said 'yes' to paying slightly more for law enforcement services.

PMG FILE PHOTO - King City Police Chief Ernie Happala leads Washington County's smallest standalone police department. A levy renewal to support the King City Police Department appears to have passed with about 61% of voters in favor, according to unofficial election results Tuesday night, Nov. 5.

The Washington County Elections Division reported that as of about 9 p.m., it had counted 738 voters in support of the levy, versus 472 voting "no."

The levy replaces a five-year money measure that voters approved in 2014. It represents a slight bump to King City residents' property taxes.

The 2014 levy was approved at a rate of 55 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, which amounts to an annual tax bill of $132 for a home valued at $240,000.

The levy that is passing in Tuesday's unofficial election results sets the rate higher, at 63 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. That means the owner of that $240,000 home will pay about $19.20 more per year toward King City police services.

"I'm extremely pleased. It's something that we feel great about as a team," said Mayor Ken Gibson of the election results Tuesday night. "I feel very good about it. It just gives us another opportunity to give the community the highest level of support. ... It's a great feeling to be able to support a great community like this."

The King City Police Department is the smallest law enforcement agency in Washington County, with just six sworn officers, including Police Chief Ernie Happala.

City officials said in the lead-up to the election that the larger levy is needed to keep pace with cost increases. For instance, with such a small police force, King City often runs up a significant overtime budget, and because its police department relies on older equipment than some neighboring law enforcement agencies do, maintenance can be expensive. The Washington County Consolidated Communications Agency, the countywide 9-1-1 dispatch service that King City uses, has also increased its rates.

"This is designed to keep pace with the cost of doing business," Gibson said of the modest tax increase. "That's what this really is."

Since 2019 is an off year for Oregon elections, there are few races on the ballot this Election Day. Elections officials across the region reported lower ballot return rates than they saw last November, when Gov. Kate Brown, state representatives and others were on the ballot.

All election results are unofficial until certified by the Oregon secretary of state. That will happen later this month.

Editor's note: This story has been updated as of 9 p.m. with comments from King City's mayor and updated unofficial election results.

By Mark Miller
Washington County Editor
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