SALEM — Oregon voters in some parts of the state are being asked to open their wallets to beef up funding for schools in next Tuesday's election.
In Portland, the largest school bond in state history is at stake. The $790 million spending package would raise taxes to address high levels of lead in drinking water at almost every school, lead paint, radon and asbestos at some facilities.
In Central Oregon, voters in the fast-growing school district covering Bend and La Pine are being asked to approve a property tax hike to raise $268.3 million in general obligation bonds. Between 2000-2016, district enrollment grew by more than 5,000 students, according to the county clerk's office. More than half of the elementary schools and all of the high schools in Bend are near or over capacity.
In other parts of the state:
Josephine County votes on measures to continue funding the animal shelter, to fund the adult jail and juvenile detention facilities for five years and to establish a special tax district to restore limited public funding to the county's libraries. Voters there, the epicenter of Oregon's pot production, are also being asked to prohibit the production of recreational marijuana in all rural residential zones. Some people who live near growing operations are upset with illegal camping and compounds associated with grow sites.
Voters in coastal Coos County are considering a measure that would block a $7.5 billion natural gas export terminal and pipeline. The Jordan Cove LNG project envisions a 230-mile pipeline running from Malin, a town on the California border, to Coos Bay. The measure would ban the transportation of fossil fuels within the county that isn't intended for local use. The company says about 175 direct jobs would be created if the project is built, with peak construction employing about 2,100 workers.
Lane County is asking voters to renew a levy to maintain jail beds and increase capacity, and to continue to provide counseling and detention services for youthful offenders. For a home valued at the median of $175,679 in 2016, the annual tax payment would be approximately $97. The Register-Guard newspaper noted in an editorial the levy provides for a psychologist and three mental health specialists.