City police, library levies back before voters

Sean C. Morgan

Of The New Era

City Manager Craig Martin wants Sweet Home residents to understand one thing about the two levy requests that will appear on the Nov. 7 ballot.

“This is not a new tax,” he said. “These two measures will replace current funding measures that are scheduled to expire on June 30, 2007. They will not be additional taxes on top of the current measures.”

That seems to be the biggest misunderstanding regarding the city’s requests for renewal levies to operate the Police Department and the Public Library, Martin said.

The proposed tax rate for the library levy will be 62 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation. That is expected to raise an estimated $673,000 over four years.

The police levy will be $6.40 per $1,000 of assessed valuation and is expected to raise $6.95 million over a four-year period. The levy renewals propose the same rate as the first year of the current levies, Martin said.

The difference between the current levies and the renewal levies is that the tax rate will be maintained throughout the four-year life of the levy. The rate for the current levies has decreased over the past four years as property values have increased. Those levies were passed based on a request for a fixed-dollar amount.

The city proposed the rate-based levies to help capture revenue from growth in the city to allow police and library functions to meet growing demand for their services, Martin said.

This will be the second time these two levies appear on the ballot. Voters approved the two levies in May, but not enough of them cast ballots.

The levies were approved by a majority of voters in May, the library 62.5 percent to 37.5 percent, and the police 57.4 percent to 42.6 percent; but the levies failed because a majority of registered voters did not vote. The election missed the “double-majority” requirement by about 30 votes.

The current levy request is identical to that proposed in May.

In the November election, the levies will not need to meet a “double-majority” requirement. Double majority requires a 50-percent voter turnout for approval of tax measures in all but general elections in November of even-numbered years.