Streets tax hike passes

Every measure facing voters in the region passed in Tuesday's elections.

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Area voters were in an agreeable, if not magnanimous, mood when they voted for school levies, a hospital levy and a transportation tax. The tally after polls closed Tuesday showed all measures passing.

A sales tax hike of 0.2 percentage points that will pay for road work in the city of Walla Walla was passing Tuesday night, 3,919 to 2,473.

Money raised by the tax will fund projects approved by a recently formed Transportation Benefit District. The tax will expire in 10 years unless voters approve an extension.

Also in Walla Walla, a measure to support funding for programs at Walla Walla Public Schools has easily passed.

The replacement school programs and operations levy passed with 64 percent, or 5,594 yes votes, according to unofficial results from the Walla Walla County Auditor's Office.

The four-year levy is an extension of an existing tax that will expire at the end of the year. Levy dollars help cover the cost of support staff employees, extra-curricular programs like music and athletics, and other enrichment programs in district schools.

The replacement levy runs 2013 through 2016, with tax rates projected at $3.64 per $1,000 of assessed property value the first year, $3.70 in 2014, $3.75 in 2015 and $3.81 in 2016. That equals about $10 million a year in local dollars for schools.

Farther afield, 70 percent of eligible voters in Garfield County turned out to give the Garfield County Public Hospital District the financial first aid it needs to survive a downturn in patient numbers, and smaller reimbursement from Medicaid and Medicare.

The district will use the levy as leverage for financing to help buy time until reimbursements for expenditures begins to stabilize. Employees furloughed a month ago will begin to resume their full-time status when it can be done comfortably, District CEO Andrew Craigie said Tuesday night.

Craigie said he was appreciative of voters' support.

The hospital district is one of the smallest in the state. Services provided include long-term care, hospital, emergency room and clinic.

The hospital's one-year, $750,000 levy was approved 623-398, with 61 percent voting yes. A supermajority of 60 percent was required.

Pomeroy School District's one-year replacement $661,076 levy was approved by a vote of 556-446.

Other levy vote results:

Dayton School District's $1.3 million, four-year maintenance and operation levy passed 744-539. The district's proposition for a four-year capital levy to provide technology improvements and upgraded gymnasium bleachers also passed, 697-584.

Prescott School District voters approved a two-year $585,000 maintenance and operation levy, 132-61.

Waitsburg School District's two-year maintenance and operation levy was approved 277-150.

Dixie School District passed a two-year, $230,730 replacement maintenance and operation levy, 110-62.

Carrie Chicken and Maria P. Gonzalez contributed to this report.

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