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Board of directors expected to take action after election results are certified

PMG PHOTO: NICOLE THILL-PACHECO - The Columbia 911 Communications District board of directors and district staff hold discussions during a public meeting Thursday, May 30, about how to proceed after an apparent error on the May ballot, where voters were asked to renew the districts operating levy. After a closed session discussion with legal counsel, the board agreed to make a final decision after the votes are certified by the state.The Columbia 911 Communications District board of directors will continue to consult with counsel from the Special Districts Association of Oregon on how to proceed after a typo appeared in levy renewal language on the May ballot.

The board of directors met Thursday, May 30.

Officials from Columbia 911, including Executive Director Mike Fletcher and several board members, indicated the ballot measure was intended to renew the special district's existing operating levy for the next five years.

The tax rate, as described on the county's tax rolls and district budget, is 29 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. The ballot text which went before voters, however, asked if voters would renew the rate "at .29 cents per $1,000 assessed value."

Levy language did specifically indicate it was a renewal of the existing levy.

Fletcher said he copied from previous ballot text before entering it into official state forms presented to the county Elections Office, which he said were reviewed by multiple individuals beforehand. The typo was first reported by The Longview Daily News several days prior to the election.

During the meeting, board members held a brief discussion and noted they would prefer to explore the topic in more depth after holding an executive session meeting to consult with legal counsel.

While the board did not take an official vote following a 20-minute closed executive session, by consensus board members agreed to allow Director Mike Fletcher to continue following up with SDAO and return with a formal recommendation of how to proceed at the next board meeting.

Questions submitted by the Spotlight to SDAO following the executive session regarding the 911 district's options were not responded to by press time Thursday.

Board member Henry Heimuller noted that it made the most sense to wait to determine next steps until after the election results were certified. Unofficial election results indicated 73.38% of voters approved the ballot measure.

This is not the first time a ques-

tion posed to voters has contained an error.

In 2017, Jefferson County voters were asked to renew a five-year county jail levy with the wrong fiscal years listed in the ballot, reporting from the Bend Bulletin indicates. The issue ultimately prompted the county to file a judicial petition to go before circuit court, where a judge ruled to allow the levy to be passed for the five year-period as intended.

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