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Officials clarify Woodland levy lift needs only simple majority

NorthLONGVIEW — Woodland’s levy lid lift to pay for more police is still on the rocks, but it’s not dead as officials believed last week.

The measure needs only a simple majority to pass, not a 60 percent supermajority, according to city attorney Frank Randolph.

The measure was just six votes short of getting the simple majority Friday. Randolph said he didn’t immediately know Monday whether the results are subject to an automatic recount.

Friday’s ballot count had the measure trailing 685-680. The next count by the Cowlitz County Elections Office is scheduled for Wednesday. It was not known whether any ballots mailed late will arrive by then.

Proposition 1 as originally submitted by Randolph said the levy lid lift needed a simple majority to pass. But Randolph said in October that the levy lid lift actually needed a supermajority, based on the state constitution.

Randolph said Monday that he was right the first time and that he had confused two different ways that cities can raise taxes in his October statement. Property taxes are limited by state law and the Washington Constitution, and the issue is complex.

Proposition 1 aims to raise the city levy rate by $0.627 to $2.47 per $1,000 of assessed value.

Randolph said the mistake arose because he is used to submitting election paperwork for Castle Rock, which has needed a supermajority for recent ballot measures it has submitted to voters.

“What I was used to in Castle Rock, every year we submit the paperwork to elections … (that) required the supermajority,” Randolph said. “It was just my ignorance, not the city that caused the confusion.”

For a $286,000 home, the lid lift would raise annual property taxes by about $194. It would pay for two police officers, one sergeant and their associated police equipment and training.

Woodland Mayor Will Finn could not be reached for comment Monday as to whether the proposition’s near miss will influence whether the city resubmits it next election.


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