Cents of community

There is an election on Tuesday, but don't panic — you didn't miss the campaign, and your ballot didn't get lost in the mail. Unless you live within Applegate Valley Rural Fire District No. 9, there is nothing to vote on in Jackson County this time around.

If you do live in the Applegate, make sure you return your ballot or drop it off. Ballots must reach the county elections office by 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 5 to be counted.

We recommend a yes vote on the Applegate Fire District's levy request, because it will continue the firefighting and emergency medical service residents have enjoyed since voters approved the first district levy in 1998.

That levy, for $1 per $1,000 assessed value, came a year after the property tax-limiting Ballot Measures 37 and 50 passed, reducing the fire district's budget by more than 21 percent.

District voters renewed the levy every five years since, most recently in 2008. The levy amount dropped during that time to 85 cents per thousand, but costs have since gone up.

This year, the district is asking voters to approve a levy of 92 cents per thousand for five years. That represents an increase of 7 cents per $1,000 of assessed value over the amount district property owners pay now.

The owner of a $200,000 home would pay $184 a year if the levy passes. But they're paying $170 now, so the difference is just 14 bucks a year. We'd call that a bargain for peace of mind.

In return for that modest investment, residents can count on continued 24-hour staffing at the headquarters fire station and five more years of recruiting and training firefighters and medical personnel. If the levy fails, service levels will have to be reduced.

This levy request is a prime example of the kind of government taxation that makes sense, and offers voters a tangible benefit they can see — and hear, when the sirens go wailing by. Supporting basic services such as firefighting and emergency medical treatment is part of living in a community, and the Applegate Valley is certainly that. Tuesday's story on the revival of the Applegate Valley Community Grange points to the growth of that community and the sense that neighbors look out for neighbors. Making sure fire protection and emergency medical response is a phone call away 24/7 is a big part of that.

We recommend Applegate Valley residents vote yes on Measure 15-120.

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