Levies necessary for critical services
October 14, 2020
I feel compelled to clarify some points made by Marilyn Schlim in last week’s letter to the editor.
It’s important people know facts when voting at the polls. Some of the assertions made in Ms. Schlim’s letter last week could be misconstrued.
There are 4,661 taxed properties in Sweet Home. Only 980 of them are assessed above $200,000. In 2020, the average property owner paid $1,032 for their police services and $154 for services provided by the public library. A home assessed at $200,000 paid $284 for the City of Sweet Home to maintain parks, streets, track finances, and other general government actitivies.
Ms. Schlim states that, “The city took a big chunk of the designated money from the police and library and put it in their General Fund.”
This is not true. What we did do was enact a fair, justified costing methodology so general services, those services used by all departments, are paid for equitably by the department that utilizes them. Every department pays for services they use in a fair manner. Levy money does not go to the General Fund.
We need to understand that Oregonians will never pay more than $10 per $1,000 of value of their property. Also, that a resident of Sweet Home only pays $1.41 per $1,000 to the City of Sweet Home, one of the lowest permanent tax rates in Oregon. That is not enough to fund the services our community expects. For comparison, Lebanon’s tax rate is $5.14 and Albany is $6.40. There are nine taxing districts vying for the remaining $8.59.
During the latest budget process, City staff actually presented a 2020-21 budget that would have collected less than the full police levy. Citizens, not elected officials, spoke out against the proposal. Citizens advocated to keep the police levy at the full amount to ensure our officers had the equipment and training to do their job: keeping us safe.
To keep a locally controlled, viable police department and public library, we must vote yes for our levies. The reality is that voting against the Sweet Home Police or Library levies will close them, send your money to a different entity, and lower our quality of life.
I fully endorse the Sweet Home Police and Library levies, and sincerely hope the citizens of Sweet Home will do the same.