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Defeat of RVTD measures might lead to cuts in bus service

A pair of Rogue Valley Transportation District measures that would have maintained current bus services across the valley, expanded services in Medford and White City and annexed Eagle Point into the transportation district failed miserably at the polls Tuesday.

The loss of potential funding the measures would have provided RVTD means Saturday and evening bus services will disappear by summer 2015 and across-the-board cuts will be made by the transportation service provider, said Connie Skillman, chairwoman of the RVTD board.

Measure 15-128 would have had property owners in the district with a house valued at $150,000 paying $19.50 more a year for a total of $46.08 in RVTD taxes. The current property tax costs $26.58 on a home valued at $150,000.

But just 39.09 percent of voters supported Measure 15-128, while 60.91 percent of voters opposed the new taxes, according to numbers released about 10 p.m. by the Jackson County Elections Office.

Measure 15-130 would have folded Eagle Point into RVTD, levying .1772 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value inside the city, the same rate paid by other property owners in the transportation district. But out of 2,554 people voting, 61.55 percent voted no, compared to 38.45 percent in favor of bringing transit service to Eagle Point.

“We will have to cut Saturday service and evening, because we no longer have the three-year grant to continue funding. The hope was that the voters would realize the importance of that service and help to keep funding it, but they didn’t,” Skillman said. “We’re going to be having to cut across the board other services, but we just don’t know how much or what that’s going to look like at this point. We just know that this is what we have to do.”

The property taxes from the Eagle Point measure would have raised about $90,000 annually for the district, according to a joint report Eagle Point and RVTD completed in April 2013.

The Measure 15-128 levy, which would have increased the RVTD levy by 13 cents per $1,000 for five years, was the first increase RVTD had asked for in more than 30 years.

The new levy would have brought in an additional $1.69 million to district coffers each year for five years, according to a report completed by RVTD.

The additional funding would have gone toward maintaining RVTD’s current services and funding new routes to Rogue Community College’s Table Rock Road campus in White City and east Medford near McAndrews Road and Springbrook Road.

“The voters decided they did not want to fund transportation, so this is what we’ll have to do. I am saddened by it, because it is a tremendous loss to the community and it will impact the lives of so many people, and I am sorry about that,” Skillman said.

Reach freelance reporter Sam Wheeler at samuelcwheeler@gmail.com.

A Rogue Valley Transportation District bus makes a stop at Crater Lake Avenue and Brookhurst Street in Medford. MT file photo