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Vote for water

Mail Tribune editorials

Shady Cove needs a reliable supply; we recommend a yes vote Sept. 17

Governments are formed in large part to provide for the common good. There are few common goods that are any more essential than a clean and adequate supply of drinking water. For that reason, above all others, voters in Shady Cove should support a proposal to create a city water district.

Shady Cove is split in two by the Rogue River, but its residents must rely on 900 private and shared wells to get their drinking water. In drought years, residents can find themselves without water even while they can hear the river rushing by. That poses health and fire risks, to say nothing of the cost and inconvenience suffered by those who have to have bottled water delivered to their homes.

Approving formation of the water district in the Sept. 17 vote-by-mail election would be a first step toward remedying that and toward eliminating the environmentally questionable practice of relying on groundwater wells.

Supporters of the district, including the City Council, say the next step, if the measure is approved, would be to consider a bond measure to finance a water system.

Opponents of the plan can take heart in the fact that even if the district is formed, the vote does not approve any public expenditure on a new water system. That would have to come in a later vote.

And some opponents can take even more solace in the fact that they will not be in the district. In a savvy move that seems to be a win-win, the district excluded five mobile home parks that have their own water supplies. The district supporters win because they eliminate a significant number of no votes, and the mobile home park residents and owners win because they will not be asked to pay if a new system is built.

That exclusion stems in part from the results of a 1999 vote on a proposed &

36;11 million citywide water system in which concerns over costs led to a 492-391 defeat of the proposal. About 200 votes, most of them negative, came from mobile home park residents.

It makes sense to form the water district, even if only to provide the mechanism for examining the feasibility of a water system for Shady Cove. We hope that, if the district is approved, district board members would keep in mind the financial concerns of citizens and keep the costs as low as possible.

But the community needs a reliable source of water if it hopes to grow and prosper in the 21st century. We encourage voters in the proposed district to support Measure 15-29.

White City levy: Yes

Voters in White City will be asked to approve a five-year operating levy for police protection on the Sept. 17 mail-in ballot. We recommend a yes vote on Measure 15-30.

The levy, which would raise a little more than half a million dollars annually at a cost of less than &

36;100 a year to the owner of a &

36;100,000 home, is necessary because of changes in tax law since voters first approved a law enforcement district in 1995.

The White City Urban Renewal District, while generating tax money for civic improvements, also freezes property values while the district is in existence. And the initial police levy approved by voters is now part of the county's general fund.

The county supports the law enforcement district, but not well enough to maintain 24-hour police coverage. Round-thge-clock coverage will end if he levy fails Sept. 17.

Thanks to hard work by activists and support from the county, White City has come a long way in improving the lives of its residents. This levy is needed to maintain that forward progress. Our recommendation: Vote yes on 15-30.