White City could have its own city departments to oversee everything from land-use planning to park development to filling potholes if voters approve a ballot measure to incorporate the community of more than 8,500 residents.
To pay for the costs of setting up and running the new city, the city's property owners would pay a tax of $1.45 per $1,000 of property value. That's an annual cost of $145 for the owner of a home assessed at $100,000.
The boundaries in the proposed city would run from east of Highway 62, west of Bigham-Brown Road, north of Justice Road and south of Hoover Avenue, according to a measure summary in the Jackson County voters' pamphlet.
Some community residents such as Lupe Cureno, 23, think the benefits would outweigh the costs. Cureno said she believed localized public services would mean better upkeep of roads. "The roads are really bad," she said. "We need a lot more road improvement."
Cureno, who has lived in the area for seven years, said she also thinks it's important that White City becomes its own entity. "I'm really planning to support it," she said.
The new city would maintain law enforcement and firefighting services with the Jackson County Sheriff's Department and Jackson County Fire District No. 3, respectively.
"Too many things were going on in our community with us having zero say-so on it," said White City resident Stan Alexander, a candidate for the White City City Council, who has been a key player in efforts to incorporate.
Alexander, a real estate agent since 1987, said he thinks incorporation will mean a boost in real estate values within the boundary.
"I have zero doubt that it will happen in the short term as people begin to find out and figure out the changes," Alexander said. "I believe that it will."
Support for the incorporation also came from neighbors of the would-be city. Maggie Webster, 85, of nearby Eagle Point, said she thought White City residents would benefit from having their own government, as it would improve road conditions and lighting for safety.
"Especially in the more remote parts of the city," Webster said.
Other White City residents aren't so sold on incorporation. Five-year resident Randi Hodges, 54, said she is content with the way the county is running the area and doesn't want to pay another tax.
"I like the way it is now. I have no complaints," Hodges said.
Curt Sather, a White City resident running for the council, said he is not in favor of incorporation, but is running in case it is passed to make sure the next steps are handled appropriately. He said the county already maintains the roads adequately, and that a city charter could mean more restrictions.
"We have a lot of good stuff in the county that Eagle Point and Medford aren't allowed to do. Parking along the street even," Sather said. "It's fine the way it is."
The property tax to fund the city would also extend to businesses within the boundary. Larger industrial sites such as Biomass One and Boise Cascade would not pay the tax, as they do not fall inside the proposed boundary lines.
"It doesn't go into the depth of the industrial park there at all," said Skip Patterson of Boise Cascade. "Basically, it doesn't affect us."
Under Oregon law, large industrial complexes can opt out of being included in a city's boundaries because of the substantial additional taxes the business would pay.
Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.