MEDFORD, Oregon. — You should have already received your voter pamphlet and ballots for the 2019 Special General Election, but perhaps you're still trying to make a decision on who or what deserves your vote this month.
Special elections tend to not get the attention that other ones garner — consisting, as they do, of a few local candidates and measures. However, those choices could still have a big impact where you live.
Learn more about issues and elections in your area:
There are two weeks left to get your ballots returned for the May 21 election. Return them as soon as you can. You can deliver them through the mail, or at an official dropbox. Find your nearest dropbox at https://t.co/EO1AMhuVEo pic.twitter.com/MttMBWZO9y— Oregon Elections (@oregonelections) May 7, 2019
Most of the decisions on each ballot, no matter the city or county, will either involve ballot measures or candidates for school and service district offices.
In Jackson County, the Central Point area will have the option to vote on an $82 million school bond for the Central Point School District, intended to address safety improvements, repairs, construction of new facilities and address overcrowding.
According to the filing, the bond is estimated to maintain — not increase — the current property tax rate, as it will take over when a previous bond, approved in 2000, expires in 2020.
"If approved, this measure would replace the tax rate of the expiring bond and is estimate to maintain the levy rate of approximately $1.15 per $1,000 of assessed value of the expiring bond," the District said in the filing.
While many candidates are running unopposed, other races are highly competitive. There are five candidates running for a single position on the Eagle Point School Board. In the Medford School District, controversial perennial candidate Curt Ankerberg is running against Lilia Caballero, current Cultural Outreach Coordinator for the City of Medford, and realtor Ruth Moncus.
Josephine County voters will be deciding on whether to pursue establishing a Rural Fire Protection District (Measure 17-89). This district would cover all the areas not currently served by rural or municipal fire districts — areas like Merlin, Hugo, Fort Vannoy, Galice, Murphy, Wonder and Shan Creek. At present, people in these areas have the option of subscribing with Rural-Metro Fire, a private company.
If approved, this measure would only get the ball rolling on the process — it would not yet form a district and establish taxes to fund it.
Grants Pass voters will be deciding on whether to impose a 3-cent per gallon gas tax to be dedicated to improving roads and other infrastructure in the city. If passed, the tax is expected to raise nearly $1.5 million per year and would replace the city's current Transportation Utility Fee, which residents cover.
"The City Council has determined that a motor vehicle fuel tax is a preferable alternative to the current Transportation Utility Fee," the City's summary states. "Visitors and residents alike will contribute to the motor vehicle fuel tax, rather than just residents. It is estimated that the majority of fuel sold in Grants Pass is purchased by non-residents."
Curry County is considering a 7 percent tax for guests who stay at hotels "and other lodgings" in unincorporated areas of the county. The proposal comes from the Curry County Board of Commissioners, who have already approved an ordinance that would become the basis for this tax, if approved by voters.
"By state law, 70 percent of the net county lodging tax collections are dedicated for tourism promotion and tourism-related facilities; 30 percent may be used to fund other county services," reads the summary. "This measure may raise an estimate $602,000 for tourism promotion and tourism-related facilities; and approximately $258,000 for other county services."
Election Day is coming up on Tuesday, May 21, and ballots must be received by the Elections Office (via mail) or deposited in an Official Ballot Drop Box no later than 8 p.m. on Tuesday. Ballots mailed too late to arrived by Tuesday will not be counted.