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Phoenix levy a rare opportunity

For about a dollar a week, residents can preserve vital public services

One of the frustrations of living in today's Oregon comes from watching critical services slowly erode as communities sit by, helpless to intervene.

Thanks to a series of ballot measures approved in the '90s, Oregonians are no longer in control of their own futures. If your schools are failing, you can plead with your legislator to do something about it (good luck on that), but there's almost nothing you can do locally to raise revenues.

That applies to a lot of local government services as well. Cities and counties across the state are slashing services, but it's the rare one that is trying to raise revenues to save services.

The city of Phoenix is one of those rare ones, and its citizens have a chance to make a statement about their commitment to the livability of their community.

Phoenix is seeking approval of a five-year levy to replace an expiring emergency services levy. The levy would raise about &

36;3.3 million over five years and would cost property owners &

36;2.85 cents per &

36;1,000 of assessed value.

— The difference homeowners would see on their property tax bills would be much less, however, since the levy replaces an existing levy that now costs &

36;1.72 per &

36;1,000. Their bills also will reflect the retirement of a general obligation bond that was costing about 60 cents per &

36;1,000. So tax bills, if the levy is approved, would be raised by about 55 cents per &

36;1,000. That amounts to about &

36;1 per week for the owner of a &

36;100,000 home.

The real cost would come in not approving the levy. If it fails, Phoenix will be forced to lay off two police officers and two firefighters. That would reduce the police force to five officers and the fire department to three.

If the levy passes, the police force and the fire department would each gain two positions, which would be phased in over the five years.

Approving the levy would ensure that Phoenix has round-the-clock protection for both police and fire. That 24-7 protection would disappear if the levy is defeated.

Too many citizens in Oregon right now feel helpless as they watch critical services vanish. Phoenix residents are in a position to protect some of those services and protect themselves at the same time. They should vote yes on Measure 15-45.

Signs of spring

Political signs are popping up like spring flowers as the May 20 election approaches. Unfortunately, some of those flowers should be pulled, because they were planted illegally.

Political signs are a time-honored method of gaining name recognition. But there are rules to follow for those who would be our leaders.

The rules essentially say that you cannot place lawn signs on public rights of way and must receive permission before putting them on private property.

In Medford, violators could face a fine for ignoring the rules. But voters should inflict the biggest penalty: If you see a sign placed in the public right of way, understand that the politician who placed it there does not respect the law. Then vote accordingly.