We're continuing to go through the ballot measures that Linn County voters will be confronted with when their ballots arrive in the mail, possibly as soon as two weeks from today.
As you might recall, the Democrat-Herald doesn't endorse candidates, and we're not about to abandon that longtime practice. But ballot measures, especially ones that don't involve hot-button issues, often get lost in the heat and dust of an election campaign — even though they may involve issues that make a real difference to a community.
One of our goals in these election-season editorials is to offer a little bit of extra information about these ballot measures. It's a bad feeling to open your ballot and discover that it's filled with measures that you haven't heard anything about. We're trying to do what we can to save you from that hollow feeling.
Here are details about two Linn County measures that will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot.
The ballot includes Measure 22-176, referred by the Linn County Board of Commissioners, that would change the position of county surveyor from elected to appointed.
As the name suggests, surveyors tackle duties such as administering land survey records and reviewing property boundary surveys and subdivision plans. It's important work, but it's technical work that requires expertise and experience.
Linn County always has elected its surveyors and generally has been served well by the people who have served in the position; as a matter of fact, Oregon law until 2009 required that county surveyors be elected. But in 2009, the Legislature changed the law to require that the position be appointed — unless an adopted county charter or county ordinance provided otherwise.
Linn County's commissioners, never ones to be pushed around by the state, adopted such an ordinance in 2009, and the position remained an elected one.
But the time has come to make this an appointed position. If voters approve the measure in November, it would not affect the term of the current county surveyor, Tom Casey; his term expires in January 2021. (Casey, the deputy surveyor in the office, was appointed to the top post after Charles Gibbs retired in July after 15 years.)
It makes sense to make this change now; we recommend a "yes" vote on Measure 22-176.
Sweet Home pool
Sweet Home voters have what could be the easiest choice on any ballot this election season: They get to decide whether to renew a five-year operating levy for the Community Pool, located on the campus of Sweet Home High School.
Here's part of the reason why this should be an easy call: The rate for the renewed levy has been set at 30 cents per every $1,000 of assessed property value. That's down from the current rate of 32 cents.
If voters approve the measure, it will raise about $215,000 each year for the Community Pool. (Increased property values in Sweet Home allow the rate to be a little less and still raise enough money to cover the costs of the pool.)
In addition, if voters decide to renew the levy, it will qualify the school district for a state local option equalization grant that is expected to provide at least $100,000 per year for major facility maintenance and improvements.
A couple of points are worth keeping in mind here: First, although voters in Sweet Home agreed to a $4 million bond measure last year to make repairs and upgrades to various school buildings, the pool isn't part of that effort.
Second, even though it's located at the high school, the pool truly lives up to its name, Community Pool. It available to everyone in the community, not just students and others associated with the school district.
With a lower tax rate and the prospect of additional state money if the measure passes, this shouldn't be a tough decision: Sweet Home voters should renew the levy. It'll be on the ballot as Measure 22-177. (mm)