Banks, Elections, Washington County

Banks voters on track to approve police funding measure

Early results from Tuesday night’s election showed that voters in Banks supported a measure to renew and increase its local operating levy for police services.

According to the first batch of results released by the Oregon Secretary of State, which are considered unofficial until they have been certified, 62.01% were in favor of measure 34-306, compared to 37.99% who voted no. 

The Banks City Council unanimously approved a local option ballot measure draft statement this summer, moving forward plans by the city to renew and increase its local operating levy for police services by placing it on the ballot this November.

The revenue raised by the proposed property tax will pay for a 6% increase in the city’s cost for police services from Washington County Sheriff’s Deputies. The revenue will pay for two Washington County Sheriff’s deputies and their accompanying police vehicles, and insurance.

The new operating levy will create a five-year property tax of $2.50 for every $1,000 of the assessed value of a property within the Banks city limits beginning in 2022. The existing local operating levy of $2.35 expires on June 30, 2022.

Banks City Manager Jolynn Becker said the city pays about $300,000 annually for two Washington County Sheriff’s deputies to be present in Banks 10 hours a day, seven days per week, or about $166 per year per resident. One deputy always is physically in the City of Banks unless called to another incident somewhere in nearby Washington County, she said.

“Officers not responding to an incident has never been an issue,” Becker said.

An explanatory measure for the levy says it was “necessary to maintain full-time police coverage in the City of Banks and to prevent the amount and effects of crime that occurs within the city to the residents of Banks, students of the Banks school system, and those who visit and do business in Banks.”

The city started outsourcing its police services in 2005. Banks had its own police department before then, but city leaders decided the cost of maintaining full-time policing was not worth it at the expense of other city departments, needs, and personnel.

“The city just had the money for the cost of staffing plus the cost of equipment and insurance, and so it would save revenue if police services were contracted out as opposed to having our own,” Becker said.

View more election results on the Oregon Secretary of State website.

+ posts

Chas Hundley is the editor of the Banks Post and sister news publications the Gales Creek Journal and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

Sign up for Banks area news in your inbox ↓

The groceries your family needs!