Gresham considers safety levy

A Gresham Police Department patrol car was parked outside the Pine Square Apartment complex following a homicide in the parking lot. (KOIN. September 6, 2013).
A Gresham Police Department patrol car was parked outside the Pine Square Apartment complex following a homicide in the parking lot. (KOIN. September 6, 2013).

GRESHAM, Ore. (KOIN) — Would you pay more taxes for police and fire protection?

One Multnomah County community is now weighing the issue at a series of town hall meetings.

Supporters of the property-tax-based levy say burglaries, robberies and rapes are on the rise in Gresham — compared to neighboring cities like Portland and Hillsboro.

Opponents said they just can’t afford another tax.

Concerned citizens and stakeholders held their first town hall meeting Thursday night, painting a picture of what those in Gresham are dealing with.

“I saw something, so I walked up to the curtain and I thought it might be an animal or something,” said Gresham resident Amy Lidstrom. “And I was looking straight into somebody’s eyes.”

Lidstrom is talking about the first time a peeping tom approached her bedroom window. Her mother called 911, but the suspect got away. Not long afterward, it happened again.

“The next morning, we came outside and we looked in the front yard,” Lidstrom said of that second time. “[We] saw grass that had been stepped on and it was a pretty big foot leading up to the window.”

The family told KOIN 6 News their North Gresham neighborhood is battling peeping toms, drugs and violence. In April, the home around the corner was burglarized. It was a crime that unfolded in front of a frightened teenaged girl, who hid under her bed. Just recently, the family called 911 to report drug-use, but “it wasn’t a priority call,” Lidstrom said. “…I think they called and they said they would come out and they didn’t.”

The Lidstroms are among the people worried about rising crime in Gresham who gathered Thursday night to talk about a five-year police and fire safety levy.

It would be based on specific property values, which could average $90 a year for the typical homeowner. But business owner Bess Wills said it could cost her company thousands.

“I honestly do understand that we need to make an investment in our community,” Wills said. “How do we do it so it’s the least impactful to the business community?”

Wills and others said that, while safety is a priority, businesses could be disproportionately affected.

“When I was little we could play outside till 11:00, now it’s like if your kids aren’t in at 6:00 parents are out searching for them.”

Lidstrom and her mother told KOIN 6 News it’s a price worth paying. The city reports details on how much the levy will cost each individual are still being worked out.

Thursday’s meeting was the first of three town hall meetings held on the topic. The next one is coming up Oct. 3, and the safety levy idea could be put to a vote next May.

blog comments powered by Disqus