Lebanon Fire District Chief Gordon Sletmoe was feeling optimistic on Wednesday.
The district was seeking a 26-year, $16 million general obligation bond in Tuesday’s special election, and the margin had grown to 262 votes, according to late results.
Those figures, released shortly before 10 p.m. Tuesday, had the bond measure passing 52.2% to 47.8%, or 3,062 “yes” votes to 2,800 “no” votes. Turnout was low at 26.6%.
The exact margin will change, Sletmoe said, but he believed the bond measure would succeed.
“Each count that has come out, the margin has been greater, so we’re feeling pretty good,” he said. “Of course, we need to wait until every vote is counted to make sure.”
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Linn County has three days to count local ballots that were dropped off in other counties, said Derrick Sterling, supervisor of elections. Results can be certified on the 15th day after an election, he added.
If the results hold, the bond will replace an expiring bond approved by voters in 2006. That bond was set at 20 cents per $1,000 in assessed value, and funds were used to build new fire stations at Cheadle Lake and on Berlin Road, as well as to purchase three new firefighting vehicles.
The new bond measure is expected to be set at 34 cents per $1,000 in assessed value. The district will use the funds to build a new central firehouse and administrative building on the same location as Station 31. That project is estimated to cost $13.6 million. Three new fire engines and two new brush fire vehicles are also scheduled to be purchased.
Though the bond measure appears set to pass, Sletmoe said the narrow margin was a reminder that residents have concerns.
“We understand that. Moving ahead, it is our goal … that we will be the best stewards of the taxpayers’ money that we possibly can be,” he said. “I just want to make sure that the citizens of the Lebanon Fire District understand that we really do appreciate them. We appreciate their input. I appreciate that they voted no matter how they voted."
“We are going to do right by the citizens. My hope is some of the people who voted no will see that we’ve done a good thing,” he added.
Lebanon Express Editor Les Gehrett contributed to this story. Kyle Odegard can be contacted at 541-812-6077 or firstname.lastname@example.org.