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Voters support medical services

Bridgeport building bond, Methow recreation proposal turned down

— While local voters continue to support emergency medical services in Tuesday’s special election, other measures such as a school bond request and a proposed recreation district are failing.

As of Friday’s second round of ballot counts, the Douglas Okanogan County Fire District No. 15 EMS levy was passing, 76 percent to 23 percent among 614 rural residents of the two-counties.

The levy is a six-year continuation of the current levy, an amount of 47 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value.

Brewster and Pateros residents are also passing matching levy requests for District No. 15 EMS that will be funneled through each city.

In Brewster, 175 residents cast their ballots as of Friday, with 77 percent in favor and about 22 percent against. Ninety-two Pateros voters are passing it 79-21 percent.

“I’m very, very grateful for all of the support to keep us going and keep us here for another six years,” EMS Director Tonya Vallance said.

In Ferry County, rural residents of EMS District No. 1 are passing a medical care and ambulance services levy, with about 83 percent voting yes.

Republic voters are approving a city version of the same levy request, with 73 percent voting yes.

If approved, the levy would cost 47 cents per year per $1,000 of assessed property valuation over a six-year period.

A three-year general fund levy of $18,325 for the Keller School District is also passing, about 73 percent to 27 percent. Ninety-six votes had been cast as of Tuesday.

If approved, the levy, about $1 per $1,000, would be collected starting next year.

Meanwhile, Bridgeport School District’s proposed $3.9 million bond issue to reconstruct part of the elementary school is failing for a second time, 53 percent to 47 percent.

The measure needs a supermajority of 60 percent to pass. A similar bond issue was rejected in February despite also having more than 50 percent support.

“Bridgeport School District will continue to provide a quality education for kids,” Superintendent Scott Sattler said. “We will have to get a bit creative to provide a positive and healthy learning space for kids and staff, but we are making plans to make that happen. Of course it is disappointing the bond failed, but we have to respect the vote and move forward in a positive manner.”

The 20-year bond would have cost property owners about $1.84 per $1,000 of assessed property valuation. With help from the state, the school district would have used the bond proceeds to remove

temporary portable buildings added to the elementary school, built in the 1970s, and rebuild that portion of the school with 16 classrooms, kitchen improvements, an updated playground and a computer lab, multi-purpose room and music room.

In the Methow Valley, residents have overwhelmingly turned down a proposition to create a new recreation district.

As of Friday, 80 percent of voters opposed forming the Methow Valley Recreation District, which would have been a junior taxing district sharing boundaries with the school district.

Julie Muyllaert, one of the candidates running to serve on the board of directors if the recreation district was approved, said she was disappointed by the results but understood that residents had a number of concerns.

“I heard from a lot of people that they support the idea of funding recreation in the Methow Valley, but were uncomfortable with the district structure prescribed by the specific state law and that they would have felt more comfortable voting for a specific plan with a budget,” she said.

Part of the purpose of creating the recreation district was to allow for more local control in creating new recreational opportunities while finding ways to help fund existing, popular facilities, such as Wagner Memorial Pool in Twisp and the Winthrop Ice and Sports Rink.

As a junior taxing district, the recreation district could have collected up to 75 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value starting in 2015.

Voters were also asked to select five at-large commissioners to serve in case the proposition passed.

The frontrunners as of Tuesday were Don Fitzpatrick for Position 1, Christine Holm for Position 2, Steven Stacy for Position 3, Bart Bradshaw for Position 4 and Paula Stokes for Position 5.

Okanogan County voter turnout was nearly 44 percent as of Tuesday, with 2,451 ballots counted and about 383 left to count. Douglas County reported more than 54 percent voter turnout, with 460 ballots counted and about 10 remaining.

Ferry County is seeing a nearly 49 percent turnout so far, with 1,112 ballots counted and an estimated 25 left.

Special election results will be certified May 6.

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