School measures, Selah bond not faring well, but voters renew EMS levy | Elections

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School measures in Mabton, Union Gap and East Valley and a bond for a new police station in Selah weren’t faring well in preliminary election results on Tuesday.

Voters were supportive of renewing a levy for emergency medical services and training.

More than 47,000 ballots have been returned, and 38,820 were counted as of Tuesday, about 30%, according to the Yakima County Auditor’s website. More ballots will arrive by mail in the days to come.

School funding

About 50.1% of East Valley School District voters approved a levy that would fund construction at East Valley Central Middle School, 2,027 votes in favor and 2,018 against. The measure needs a simple majority of 50% plus one vote to pass.

“At this point it’s favoring yes, but it’s really close,” East Valley Superintendent Russ Hill said Tuesday night. “We’ll have to wait and see in the next few days. We’re excited to hopefully move forward with the project and address the needs of our students.”

The levy would raise about $5 million over two years to expand the commons area at East Valley Central Middle School. School officials said the current commons area is overcrowded as the district’s student population continues to grow.

In Mabton 51.65% of voters rejected a bond measure to expand and renovate Mabton Junior Senior High School, with 88 votes in favor and 94 against. The measure needs 60% voter approval.

“Time will tell,” said Mabton Superintendent Joseph Castilleja Tuesday night. “At the moment we are not passing but just a few votes make a big difference in a district our size.”

The measure would allow the district to issue $12.8 million worth of bonds to make security improvements, build a proper kitchen and expand the school building, so students no longer have to use “portable” classrooms, school officials said.

About 54.9% of Union Gap voters approved a bond measure for school improvements and construction, with 213 votes in favor and 175 against. The measure needs 60% to pass.

The $9.6 million worth of bonds would be used to improve security, expand parking and storage space, purchase new playground equipment and build an auxiliary gym.

EMS levy

The Emergency Medical Services levy appears to be renewed by Yakima County residents, with 72.4% of votes in favor, and 27.6% against, or 27,332 for and 10,418 against, according to unofficial results. The levy has provided funding for emergency medical care and services since 1991.

This year, the levy of an estimated 25 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation raised over $4 million. The levy’s model dictates that 88.5% of the money raised goes toward EMS. The remaining 11.5% goes to the county’s 20 fire departments.

The funds go toward training, salaries, firefighting equipment, medical supplies and operating insurance.

Selah Police Department bond

A $12.7 million bond for a new Selah public safety building appears to be failing in early election returns.

In unofficial results, the bond received 51.5% of votes for approval, or 702-661. To pass, the bond must receive support from at least 60% of voters casting ballots.

“It’s too close for comfort,” said Selah police Chief Dan Christman. “I shall remain optimistic.”

Christman said he was at Selah City Hall Tuesday evening and saw a steady stream of people coming in to cast ballots. He said there are ballots that were put in the mail and have not yet been counted.

He said when the next results are released on Wednesday, he’ll have a better idea of where the bond stands.

The bond would pay for the construction of a new building to house the city police department and the Selah Municipal Court on land the city owns on West Naches Avenue across the street from Robert Lince Elementary School.

Currently, the police operate out of a rented building at 617 S. First St. The city pays $5,000 a month for rent, in addition to covering the costs of maintenance and taxes.

If passed, the bond would increase the property tax rate by 59 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, which Christman said would work out to $14.75 a month for the owner of a $300,000 home.

Christman said he had not heard any of the bond’s critics offer a better plan. He said it would not be a wise use of the city’s money to renovate a building the city does not own, even if it seems cheaper on the surface.