As of Wednesday, May 14, 2014
OKANOGAN Special election ballots are due Tuesday for a handful of issues in Okanogan and Douglas counties.
Okanogan County sent out 5,659 ballots and 2,452 were returned as of Friday afternoon.
The Douglas County Auditor’s Office mailed 847 ballots, because the only two items are for Fire District No. 15 and the Bridgeport School District.
As of Friday afternoon, 358 ballots had been returned.
Douglas-Okanogan County Fire District No. 15 is asking voters to continue its emergency medical service levy for another six years at the same rate, 47 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value.
The cities of Pateros and Brewster are asking voters to approve EMS levies for the same amount, but that money will be given directly to EMS. The ballot notes that each city still has a contract for EMS services with Fire District 15 even if the measures are defeated.
EMS is primarily funded through property taxes and private payments, EMS Director Tonya Vallance said.
The levy “basically guarantees 24/7 coverage for the patrons in the area,” Vallance said in a previous interview. “Once the tone goes off, the taxpayer switch – for lack of a better word – kind of goes off, and the individual is paying for it then.”
Okanogan and Douglas counties’ ballots also includes a request from the Bridgeport School District for a $3.9 million, 20-year bond issue to rebuild a portion of the elementary school that is comprised of portable buildings.
Per property owner, the measure breaks down to about $1.84 per $1,000 of assessed value.
The portables were intended to be temporary when they were installed in 1977 and have since become leaky and moldy, Superintendent Scott Sattler said.
Electrical wiring and other safety issues also have become a concern, aside from the need for more space for a growing student population.
Tearing down the portables would make way for 16 classrooms, a music room, computer lab, an improved playground and multi-purpose room, as well as an updated kitchen to provide breakfast and lunch for all 820 students district-wide.
The entire project is estimated to cost about $8.5 million, but the state would contribute $4.6 million of that.
This is the second attempt for Bridgeport to pass the bond request. Voters turned it down in the Feb. 11 special election. Although 54 percent of voters supported it, bond issues need a supermajority of more than 60 percent to pass.
In the Methow Valley, voters living within the school district will decide whether to create the Methow Valley Recreation District.
It would be a junior taxing district within Okanogan County, allowing it to collect a portion of property tax revenues for operations.
The district’s purpose would be to not only seek funding for new recreational opportunities and projects in the Methow Valley, but help provide funding for already existing facilities such as the Wagner Memorial Pool in Twisp and the Winthrop Ice and Sports Rink.
Thirteen candidates have thrown their hats in the ring to fill five commissioner seats on the recreation board, if it is created.
They are Don Fitzpatrick Jr. and Julie Palm, Position No. 1; Christine Holm and Kevin Van Bueren, Position No. 2; Brent Walker, Steven Stacy and Camden Shaw, Position No. 3; Mike Fort, Bart Bradshaw and Kristin Devin, Position No. 4; and Paula Stokes, John Northcott and Julie Muyllaert, Position No. 5.