Ridgefield voters reject school district’s $40-million general obligation bond


Voters approved annexation of the city of Woodland into Clark County Fire & Rescue district; Fire levy lid lifts were also approved by voters in Clark County Fire District 6 and East County Fire & Rescue

Voters in the Ridgefield School District have rejected a $40-million general obligation bond on the ballot in the Aug. 4 primary election. Voters did approve annexation of the city of Woodland into the Clark County Fire & Rescue district as well as fire levy lid lifts in Clark County Fire District 6 and East County Fire & Rescue.

In February’s special election, 59.19 percent of Ridgefield voters approved of a $107 million bond program, narrowly missing the super majority of 60 percent plus one needed for approval. District officials then decided to ask for a modified bond program of $40.465 million in the August primary election, but voters have overwhelmingly rejected that proposition with 52.52 percent voicing their opposition.

Ridgefield voters reject school district’s $40-million general obligation bond in Tuesday’s primary election. Photo by Mike Schultz
Ridgefield voters reject school district’s $40-million general obligation bond in Tuesday’s primary election. Photo by Mike Schultz

The latest proposition would have authorized the district to construct and equip a new K-6 elementary school and accessible, inclusive playgrounds at South Ridge and Union Ridge elementary schools, by issuing $40,465,000 of general obligation bonds maturing within 21 years. The district also expected to receive approximately $12.5 million in state matching funds for the projects.

The bond would have also allowed the district to purchase land and begin design of new grades 5-6 and grades 7-8 campuses as well as design of a high school expansion.

Like all districts in Clark County, Ridgefield will open the 2020-2021 school year with remote learning. When the district does reopen its school buildings for in-person learning, district officials say they will have to rely on the addition of more portables to accommodate an expected 1,760 students over the next five years. 

District officials say they will need 57 portable buildings with 114 classrooms to serve the increased student body and they say there is not sufficient space for that many portables. Nor does the district have the financial resources to purchase and place that many portables.

Clark County Fire & Rescue Proposition 2

Voters inside the Clark County Fire & Rescue (CCFR) district appear to have approved a proposition that will allow CCFR to continue to provide fire protection and emergency medical services to the city of Woodland. CCFR has provided service to Woodland residents since 2013 with a contract, but the city will now be annexed into the fire agency’s district.

A total of 77.13 percent of Clark County voters in the district approved the annexation, while 22.87 percent were opposed.

Woodland residents will now be levied the District tax rate and would qualify to vote in district elections, which they haven’t been able to do in the past. District officials believe annexation will allow for better long-term planning and service delivery in the district and in Woodland.

All properties of the combined district will be assessed the same levy rate (currently $1.48 per $1,000 of assessed value). The city of Woodland property tax levy would decrease by an amount equal to the fire district levy. The overall combined tax rate and current level of service for Woodland and CCFR are anticipated to remain the same with annexation, according to district and city officials.

Clark County Fire District 6

Voters appear to have approved a proposed levy lid lift for Clark County Fire District 6. The district’s requested levy lid lift was the first since 2015, and it will return the district’s levy from the depreciated $1.16 to $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value. As property values rise, the levy rate falls.

The new funds will be primarily used for the expansion of the district’s resources with a new unit in Salmon Creek and new firefighting apparatuses district-wide. For the average homeowner in the area, which is typically a home of $350,000, the levy lift will equate to a cost of a little less than $10 a month.

A total of 66.78 percent of voters approved the levy lift and 33.22 percent rejected the proposition.

East County Fire & Rescue

It appears voters have approved a fire levy lid lift in the East County Fire & Rescue district. The lid lift allows the fire district to restore the levy rate for emergency services to $1.50 per $1000 of assessed valuation.  The last time voters in East County Fire & Rescue approved a fire levy Lid Lift was in 2008.

The lid lift will cost property owners 34 cents per $1,000 (or $12.75 per month for the owner of a $450,000 home).

A total of 69.83 percent of voters approved the levy lift, as opposed to 30.17 percent who rejected it.

In 2014, East County Fire & Rescue voters approved a 6-year, 35 cents Emergency Medical Service “EMS” Levy. The 2014 EMS levy will expire at the end of this year. The new measure will authorize East County Fire & Rescue to continue for another six years its EMS property tax levy at a rate not to exceed $0.35 per thousand dollars of assessed valuation.

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About The Author

Ken Vance got his start in the newspaper industry in 1987 as a reporter at The Columbian Newspaper in Vancouver. Vance graduated from Stevenson High School in Stevenson, WA, and attended Clark College in Vancouver. He worked for The Columbian from 1987-2001. He was most recently a staff member of The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground, where he served as editor since 2010 and reporter since 2007. Vance’s work in the newspaper industry has won him multiple awards, including a first place award from the Society of Professional Journalists for in-depth reporting.

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