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Voters will be asked to keep police position

Friday, March 9, 2018

Residents will be asked in May to continue paying for a Warrenton police officer position.

The funding would come from the extension of a property tax levy first passed in 1999.

Warrenton Police Department has seven officers and, should the levy fail, at least one officer position would be cut.

“There is not some magic pot of money,” Mayor Henry Balensifer said at Tuesday night’s City Commission meeting. “This will end in some real cuts if we don’t have this levy.”

Home owners currently pay 28 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, or $56 per year on a home valued at $200,000. If approved, that would continue until 2024. The current levy ends in June 2019.

“We feel that continuing at 28 cents is reasonable,” City Manager Linda Engbretson said. “And thought it best to go out (for the vote) in spring rather than try to compete with whatever is on the November ballot.”

Two bond measures are expected to face voters in November.

Warrenton-Hammond School District is likely to approve placing a long-range facilities bond before voters, asking for enough money over the next two decades to build a multi-campus school compound outside the tsunami zone.

Clatsop County will ask voters to approve funding for an expanded jail facility in Warrenton to prevent the constant release of inmates due to lack of beds.

Several commissioners asked whether addition police funding might be needed, but Engbretson said the city wants to be sensitive to what residents are able to pay.

“We just asked for library funding,” Engbretson said. “This would just be continuing what people have been paying for many years. We want to be able to continue to fund the officers we have.”

If approved, the levy is expected to raise about $168,500 in the first year and increase slightly over the five-year period as home values improve and more homes are built. The money can be used for police operations only.

City Commissioners unanimously approved placing the measure on the ballot.

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