Oroville School voters pass capital improvement levy

Tonasket tax trails by three, Hover by eight

OKANOGAN – What a difference 10 days makes.

It looks like Supt. Steve Quick got the miracle he was hoping for as Oroville School District’s three-year capital improvement levy is now ahead in the ballot count by 45 votes.

The levy would raise $1.2 million to repair the elementary school’s leaky roof, as well as doing some other small remodeling projects. In the Nov. 6 election night count the measure was failing and that hadn’t changed in the Friday, Nov. 9 tally where there were 17 more votes against. The change came in the third ballot count which took place Wednesday, Nov. 14 when the votes for approval overtook those voting against by 58. The numbers decreased slightly to 45 after the last count which was Friday, Nov. 16. The measure needs to hold on for only one more count scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 27, when the election will also be certified.

“I guess there were a lot more votes that came in that needed to be counted and that put it ahead,” said a surprised Quick on Wednesday night. Once approved Quick said the district would move right away to find short term, low interest financing (to be paid back as the levy is collected), as well as bids to construct a new roof on the elementary building.

Okanogan County Auditor Laurie Thomas and Tonasket Mayor Patrick Plumb and the special ballot drop off box at Tonasket City Hall. G-T File Photo

While it looks like the Oroville measure may survive, just a couple of votes could make the difference for Tonasket’s Proposition 1. The Sales and Use Tax levy which would help offset increasing Criminal Justice costs was way behind in the second count, with those against at 53.85 percent. However the third ballot count had the measure down by just one vote and the fourth count has it down by two. A similar proposition in Okanogan was also down just two votes.

“I appreciate the Tonasket City taxpayers for considering supporting our Criminal Justice efforts by it being so close to passing,” said Tonasket Mayor Patrick Plumb last Thursday. “This vote will require a 50 percent plus one so we are actually down by two votes (now down by two as of last count, so it will take three votes).”

The mayor added that the city council did not advocate either a pro or con stance on the issue, but it was something that the legislature offered to Washington cities and counties to help offset costs of jail fees and community police services.

“I figured it was a little premature to call the failure of the ballot measure because the auditor retrieved 432 ballots from the Tonasket City drop box so to see it change the count to that amount was not too surprising,” said Plumb. “Again, the city appreciates the support of the folks that were in favor of the measure and we also very much understand the reluctance to raise taxes during an economic downturn. We will continue to monitor the election results until the election is certified, and this measure will stand counted as is because I understand that a tax measure does not trigger a recount like other races in the county may do by the end.”

The mayor said the impact of shopping local, or when people choose not to, affects the city’s budget immensely.

“By my rough calculations, sales tax collection is four times the amount that we bring in from property taxes and if there hadn’t been upwards of a 20 percent decrease in city wide sales, we may not have been in such a budget crisis,” said Plumb, who adds he continues to urge Tonasket and the surrounding communities to shop in Tonasket.

“It is the difference between a thriving community and one that is barely able to hang on. It also helps keep our local business owners going so we all can benefit.”

In another come-from-behind election, incumbent Don “Bud” Hover had gained ground against fellow Republican candidate Ray L. Campbell for Position 2 on the County Board of Commissioners. According to last Friday’s ballot count, Hover was just eight votes behind the leader. In the other county commissioner election, Republican Sheilah Kennedy easily defeated Democrat Albert Roberts for Position 1. Kennedy maintained a nearly 2,600 vote lead in last week’s ballot tally.

For Okanogan County PUD Commissioner District 2, newcomer Steve Houston, easily defeated the incumbent, Trish Butler, by nearly 2,500 votes.

Countywide before the Friday count there were 875 ballots left to count, but there is not a current estimate on how many ballots postmarked by election day will trickle in before the final vote count scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 27.

The election had an 80.36 percent turnout, according to Mila Jury, an election official with the Okanogan County Auditor’s office. For a complete list of how the county voted in the general election in this presidential election year, see: http://vote.wa.gov/results/current/okanogan/.

Oroville School Levy now passing by 45 votes