BEND, Ore. - Far fewer than half of Central Oregon voters returned their mail ballots for Tuesday's special election. But those who did handily passed several Deschutes County funding requests – most to continue existing tax rates, or even a bit lower, in one case. Elsewhere, voters narrowly passed a Crook County schools bond measure, and did the same for one of two money requests in Jefferson County.
Turnout for the election that also decided several of contested school, park and water board seats (and a whole lot of uncontested ones) ranged from 34 percent in Deschutes County, where the last 9,000 of 32,466 ballots were counted early Wednesday, to nearly 36 percent in Crook County and almost 44 percent in Jefferson County.
Deschutes County 911 has pitched its five-year renewal of an expiring location option tax as a bargain of sorts, dropping the previous tax rate of 23 cents per $1,000 of assessed value to 20 cents by using some of its reserve funds.
That must have been a good message, because voters who previously turned down a new 911 district handily passed the new levy by a whopping 3-to-1 ratio, 77 to 23 percent, according to the final unofficial numbers Wednesday morning.
Sheriff Larry Blanton said that "911 is a very basic foundation for quality of life and safety, and we're very grateful" for the voters' support.
It also wasn't close for Bend-La Pine Schools, whose $96 million bond measure to build new elementary and middle schools and do more than 100 upgrades to existing schools passed, 62 to 38 percent after the final returns.
The La Pine Rural Fire District also sought to renew two money measures – one for operations, one to replace aging trucks and gear – and the operations levy surged to an 84 to 16 percent victory, while the capital levy passed 70 to 30 percent.
Get all the latest Deschutes County figures here: http://www.deschutes.org/Clerks-Office/Elections/Current-Election/Election-Results.aspx
It was a far closer but no less successful win for Crook County schools, as voters approved a $33.5 million bond measure by just 140 votes out of 4,266 ballots cast. That will pay for a new 700-student elementary school to replace two older schools, as well as upgrades to other schools, as well as an upgrade to Ward Rhoden Stadium.
Crook County's final unofficial returns can be found here: http://www.co.crook.or.us/Departments/CountyClerk/ElectionInformation/ElectionResults/RecentElectionResults/tabid/1675/Default.aspx
In Jefferson County, a $9.8 million Culver School District bond measure, their second attempt to pass a money request, was being defeated by just 60 votes, 536 no votes to 476 in favor.
However, a five-year tax proposal by the Madras Aquatic Center to ensure year-round swimming and develop recreation programs was approved by just 124 votes, 1,346 (52 percent) to 1,222 (48 percent). Still, as any Olympics swimming-watcher knows, many races in the pool are won by a fingertip – and a win is a win.
"This levy will help the MAC Recreation District Board of Directors accomplish the mission of providing fun, affordable and safe aquatic fitness, sport, health and recreation services," said Lonnie Henderson, MAC PAC Co-Chair. "The people of Jefferson County saw the importance of the MAC Recreation District operations levy and because of that, our community will be better for tomorrow and healthier than before."
A link to the latest Jefferson County election results (in Adobe Acrobat PDF form) can be found on this page: http://www.co.jefferson.or.us/Home/tabid/796/language/en-US/Default.aspx