On Tuesday, the Tigard City Council agreed to move forward with sending voters a $7 million yearly levy in May

COURTESY OF CITY OF TIGARD - The city of Tigard is looking at sending residents a local option levy this May.The Tigard City Council has agreed to send a local option levy to voters this May aimed at raising $7 million annually for five years with the possibility of renewing it at the same rate for another five years.

On Tuesday, the council approved having the city manager and city attorney draft a ballot title for a measure that's aimed at maintaining current city services and adding to them as well.

That proposal would cost residents $1.18 per $1,000 of assessed valuation on annual property taxes with an overall dollar amount expected to be forwarded to the council next week.

City Manager Marty Wine told councilors that for at least the last three budget cycles it's been apparent the city isn't able to meet its current revenue levels.

Last year a Tigard Levy and Bond Advisory Task Force was put together to look at the feasibility of a local option levy, recommending a rate of anywhere from $1.25 to $1.50 to improve current city services.

"They also recommended there should be service enhancement," said Wine.

That means that the original discussion of approaching voters with a request for $1 per $1,000 of assessed valuation would be enough to maintain services but not improve them. Specific recommendations from the task force have been to add to such city services as police and public safety issues, park maintenance and safe routes to school/sidewalks.

The levy would also restore $2.6 million in proposed cuts to general fund services programs that are expected to be forwarded to the Tigard Budget committee this spring, city officials have said.

"We would envision a successful levy would restore these reductions," Wine said.

Weighing in on the issue, Councilor John Goodhouse said the sooner the city can pass a levy the better, noting that Tigard is behind other cities of its size in services provided.

Sending a levy to voters in May is necessary Councilor Tom Anderson said, pointing out that the city is frozen with a tax rate from the 1990s.

Council President Jason Snider said while he'd like to go for a larger levy, he could live with the smaller amount given the circumstances.

Meanwhile, Councilor Marc Woodard said he wouldn't support the levy until long-needed performance audits are conducted on several city departments.

However, Mayor John Cook said he was supportive of a levy in May, noting that the Tigard Budget Committee has been recommending one for the last three to four years. He said city departments and staffs have been maxed out for several years.

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