Falls bond request headed for ballot

FALLS CITY -- The city council of Falls City approved a resolution Tuesday, Aug. 10, to place a tax levy on the ballot in November to purchase property adjacent to its namesake falls.

FALLS CITY -- The city council of Falls City approved a resolution Tuesday, Aug. 10, to place a tax levy on the ballot in November to purchase property adjacent to its namesake falls.

The resolution supports putting a five-year, $150,000 bond levy before voters this fall. It passed on a 3-to-1 vote. Councilors Julee Bishop, John Volkmann and Erma Ferguson voted in favor; Councilor Bruce Garrett voted against.

Councilors Henry Hughes and Willy Lowman were absent from the meeting, as was Mayor Darrin Fleener.

With the city council's approval, a ballot title needs to be advertised and a seven-working day challenge period completed before paperwork is submitted to the Polk County Clerk's Office. The city's deadline is Sept. 2.

If the measure passes, taxes will be levied to collect $30,000 per year for five years, amounting to about 89 cents per $1,000 of assessed value on properties. Those funds will pay back bonds secured to purchase land on the north side of the falls on the Little Luckiamute River.

The levy proposal is backed by The Little Luckiamute Alliance to Save the Falls, which formed after the city of Falls City's eminent domain case failed to force the sale of direct access to the falls on the north side.

The group asked for the council's support last month.

Group leaders decided it would be best to acquire bond funding as soon as possible, if the measure is approved, rather than wait five years until the taxes have been collected.

"The alliance's position on that is that time is of the essence," said alliance spokesman Dennis Sickles.

Garrett said he had misgivings about the proposal since it was presented to the council in July. His "no" vote stemmed from what he sees as a lack of demonstrated support for acquiring and upkeep of the area around the falls. He said if the alliance had formed a nonprofit and had run a successful fundraising campaign, he would be more inclined to back the measure.

"I don't see the support," he said.

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