Washougal levy election results are mixed

Proposition to hire additional police officer fails

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The majority of voters in Washougal have approved a measure to provide additional funding for fire and emergency medical services, while rejecting a proposition to enhance public safety services.

In the Nov. 4 General Election, Proposition 5 received 2,321 “yes” votes (58.6 percent) and 1,640 “no” votes (41.4 percent).

It will replace a levy lid lift that expired at the end of 2012, to support emergency medical and fire services, at a cost of 10 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

There are 8,550 registered voters in Washougal.

The owners of a property assessed at $275,000 will pay $27.50 annually. The six-year levy lid lift will be used for advanced and basic life support, emergency transport, rescues, first response, fire suppression and inspection, prevention and investigation services.

It will also pay for emergency management, wild land fire deployment, public safety training and interagency assistance through mutual aid agreements.

Proposition 6, which would have provided funding to add one police officer and pay for other public safety enhancements such as additional code enforcement efforts, received 1,912 “yes” votes (48.34 percent) and 2,043 “no” votes (51.66 percent).

The six-year levy lid lift would have cost 10 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

There are currently 18 officers in the Washougal Police Department, plus one vacant position.

Current staffing levels are requiring frequent overtime and 12-hour shifts at the WPD.

City Councilman Dave Shoemaker and Washougal Police Sgt. Thad Eakins had written a statement of support for Prop. 6, in the Voters’ Pamphlet.

Shoemaker said yesterday he was disappointed that the police officers must continue to shoulder the burden.

“I admire them for their dedication and diligence,” he said.

Shoemaker said the voters are feeling overtaxed, under appreciated and taken for granted.

“They are continually besieged with demands for more taxes and fees from every level of government,” he said.

In a survey conducted earlier this year by ETC Institute, 73 percent of the respondents said they were satisfied with the quality of police services.

The survey involved 411 participants, out of 1,200 people who were contacted by phone or mail.

Mayor Sean Guard said yesterday the rejection of Prop. 6 might be related to the community’s satisfaction with the level of police officers.

“In the survey they noted satisfaction with the current level of service, but then we turned around and asked them for more,” he said.

The 2015 preliminary budget assumed that both propositions would be approved by voters.

Guard said none of the items that would have been paid for by the levy lid lift in Prop. 6 will be factored into the updated budget.

“With no additional revenue, those service levels will stay at what they are at now,” he said.