Central Oregon

Most C.O. money measures pass easily; one inches ahead

Room tax hikes, Alfalfa fire district win; Culver school bonds up by three votes

Bend, Deschutes room tax backers cheer victory

BEND, Ore. - Central Oregon voters handily approved most of the half-dozen funding measures placed before them in ballots counted Tuesday night -- except for Culver schools, where the fourth try in recent years to pass a bond for repairs and improvements was hanging to a three-vote victory margin in the night's final count.

At first, the $8 million Culver measure was down by 20 votes, then by 16 -- and in the last count, it inched ahead, 588 yes votes to 585 no. Some ballots were unsigned but are available to be signed until Nov. 15, and the fate of the measure could rest in those ballots.

"This is nip and tuck, you know?" said Superintendent Stefanie Garber. And with at least a few votes left to count, she added, "It's definitely the most nerve-wracking of all the campaigns."

It wasn't anywhere near that close for all of the area's other ballot items in the off-year election, including a new 5-year Jefferson County Jail operations levy, which passed 2,697 yes votes (57 percent) to 2,059 no votes (43 percent) in the night's final count.

It's larger than the jail levy that expires next summer, but Sheriff Jim Adkins noted taxpayers still will face a smaller overall bill for the jail, as a levy to build the current jail is paid off and expires.

Adkins said he was "very excited that people supported the jail," calling it a "crime reduction" move to keep more criminals and suspects behind bars.

In Deschutes County, proposed room tax hikes in the city of Bend and unincorporated areas of the county (mostly the resorts) were passing by amazingly similar 62-38 percent margins.

The Bend room tax hike was passing with 10,175 yes votes to 6,125 against in the final, late Tuesday night count, while the county's measure had 20,752 yes votes to 13,098 against in the first round of ballot counts,in an off-off-year election that saw about a third of voters (35 percent) return their mail ballots.

Fairgrounds Manager Dan Despotopulos said the added funds to promote the fairgrounds for events will help fill motel rooms and bring a boost to the area economy.

Cascade Publications CEO Pamela Hulse Andrews was at the celebration Tuesday night and she was not surprised, but relieved that a strong majority of voters saw the benefit the added funding would bring for public safety, tourism promotion and the arts.

A pair of two-county funding proposals also were faring well.

Alfalfa's bid to create and fund a new fire district won similar overwhelming support in Deschutes County, with a 229 (70 percent for) to 99 votes (30) percent against) tally, and 14-6 votes in favor in the smaller area in Crook County. The measure creates a taxing district with a permanent rate of $1.75 per $1,000 of assessed value.

A renewal of an operations levy for the Crooked River Ranch Rural Fire Protection District was passing overwhelmingly in Jefferson County, 968 (77 percent) to 293 votes (23 percent), and about the same, 82-27 votes (75-25 percent) in the Deschutes County portion of CRR.

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