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A survey shows only 38% of those polled are certain or would lean towards supporting a police levy

PMG FILE PHOTO - The Tigard City Council will continue to examine whether to send a public safety levy to voters in May 2020, saying there is a need to add more officers. 'If not now, when?' Mayor Jason Snider asked during a meeting Tuesday.Despite initial low polling numbers regarding support for a potential police patrol and neighborhood safety levy, the Tigard City Council says it will continue to examine whether to approach voters with the measure in May 2020.

"If not now, when?" asked Tigard Mayor Jason Snider following a review of polling data presented by DHM Research.

A telephone and online survey of 300 voters conducted Oct. 3-8 shows that only 38% of those contacted would support a police levy while 54% said they wouldn't at the moment.

"Concerns about housing affordability and cost of living are the primary reasons why voters oppose funding the levy," according to survey results.

Other highlights of the survey included:

  • Voters are satisfied with the overall direction of the City of Tigard as well as its police department.
  • The fact that the Washington County Sheriff's Office's plans to also place its public safety levy on the May 2020 ballot left neither a positive nor negative impact regarding support of the measure.
  • Questions regarding whether respondents would support building a new police facility polled "about as well" as the levy, survey results showed, although voters wanted to know more about potential costs and the benefits of a new police station.
  • When told a levy would increase the typical homeowner property taxes by about $125 per year, support for the measure increased slightly, the surveys revealed. At the same time, pollsters discovered when mentioning that of a possible cost of 46 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation, 2 to 3 cents of that amount would be dedicated to safety improvements along school routes, support for the levy increased significantly.
  • Meanwhile, the Tigard Levy and Bond Advisory Task Force conducted three meetings before sending a letter to the council suggesting it hold off on a May 2020 public safety measure to voters because of a need to have more time to educate and advocate for the issue.

    "In simple terms, success will be contingent upon showing the need," according to the letter. "We feel that before any ask is made, the city needs to embark on an educational campaign, where the city's story is told, and finances are explained."

    Still, the task force said it would support the decision of the council.

    At issue is discussion of adding eight officers to the patrol division as well as two officers dedicated to homeless outreach issues. Generally, the city has only three officers patrolling the city's five districts at any given time. Snider suggested that the council work on cost sensitivity issues and sharpen their pencils when they meet again to discuss the levy proposal again next Tuesday.

    "I am of a mind that we are moving forward," said Councilor Liz Newton. "I am interested in additional polling in December."

    Councilor John Goodhouse said he would like to discuss how 40 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation would play out with voters, whether it would "move the needle."


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