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In an emergency or crisis, every second counts.

Gresham has too few firefighters and police officers to meet the growing number of emergency calls. Our city has grown, and so has the demand for emergency services.

We need more firefighters and police officers to continue to provide the lifesaving services our residents depend on.  


Our first responders put their lives on the line for us every day.

On May 21st, Gresham voters can be there for them by Voting Yes on Measure 26-247, a five-year levy dedicated solely to fire and police staffing and support so they can continue to be there when we need them the most.

Why do we need a levy?

The current $15 per month Police, Fire and Parks fee only funds 9% of public safety services and is not enough to meet the growing demand for emergency services. A dedicated public safety levy will enhance fire and police protection and responsiveness. The levy will not replace the existing fee.    

The average cost of the levy for a Gresham homeowner would be $25.65 per month.

What is purpose of the proposed levy and why is it needed?
Gresham is proposing a five-year levy on the May 2024 ballot to retain existing fire and police personnel and hire more firefighters and police officers to meet the needs of the growing population and the growing demand for emergency first responders.

What is the problem?
Gresham has too few firefighters and police officers for a city our size and at the same time demand for police and fire services has been going up. Over the past twenty years, Gresham’s population has increased 19% but today the city actually has one less sworn police officer than in 2004 while in recent years shootings in Gresham have increased more than 400%.

And over the past thirty years, Gresham’s population has increased 46% while the daily minimum staffing for the Gresham fire department has remained the same as it was in 1994.

In an emergency or crisis, every second counts. Taken together, the current situation means slower emergency response times, fewer police officers to prevent and investigate all types of crime, and not enough fire marshals to inspect our schools and businesses.

What is the solution?
A five-year levy on the May 2024 Gresham ballot will provide new funding for fire and police positions. The levy will help retain existing fire and police positions and will fund 13 new firefighters and 9 new police officers to meet the growing demand and need for public safety in Gresham.

Hiring more firefighters and police officers will improve emergency response times and allow for more neighborhood patrols and enhanced public safety. In addition, the levy will fund a fire rescue truck to provide faster and more efficient medical response, and two additional fire marshals to allow regular inspections at our schools and businesses. The fire marshals would also offer fire safety education again and help with arson investigations.

Gresham voters turned-down a similar levy last year. How is this proposal different?
Following the narrow defeat of a Safety Levy ($1.50 per $1000 of assessed value) in May 2023 (52% to 48%) the city undertook community outreach and listening to better understand voter concerns. More 230 city residents participated in an online questionnaire and a community town hall providing feedback. In addition, the city hired a local independent research firm - DHM Research - to conduct focus groups and a scientific poll of 400 city voters to better understand community issues and concerns.
The City Council learned three big things from listening closely to local residents: 1) the community is concerned about public safety and supports the need for more firefighters and police officers, 2) many felt the $1.50 cents per $1000 was too high and 3) the community was divided over including funding for additional homeless services within a levy.
With this feedback in hand, the City Council reduced the levy rate to $1.35 per $1000 and focused the levy exclusively on retaining and adding more firefighters and police officers to address public safety concerns. The city is pursuing other funding to address homeless services needs, covered below.
If approved by voters, what exactly would the levy fund?
More Gresham Police Officers
The five-year levy would fund 9 new sworn police officers – a 7% increase over existing sworn officer positions. Overall, the levy would support a 17.5% increase in total Gresham police personnel to enhance public safety. More sworn officers serving the community would improve response times and allow for dedicated detectives to investigate all types of crimes. With more officers, GPD could restore specialty police units, including Neighborhood Enforcement Team, Traffic Enforcement Team, and other specialty that both prevent and investigate crime.
More Gresham Firefighters
The five-year levy would fund 13 new firefighters to improve emergency response times and would provide an additional rescue truck to Gresham’s busiest fire station. The levy would add two additional Fire Marshals to conduct school inspections, business inspections, support arson investigations, and provide school education.
How much would the proposed levy cost the average Gresham taxpayer?
Beginning July 1, 2024, the five-year levy would cost each property owner $1.35 per each $1,000 of assessed property value.  The average home in Gresham has an assessed value (not real market value) of $228,000. The levy would cost the average homeowner in Gresham $25.65 a month.


Will there be any new oversight and accountability over levy spending?
Levy revenue will be placed in a dedicated and protected account overseen by a 7-member committee of Gresham residents. The committee will make annual reports to the City Council and levy spending will be audited each year. The levy will raise an estimated $64 million over five years ($12 to $14 million each year).
What is a levy?
An amount that, if passed by voters, would be collected through a property tax charged to each property owner (residential and commercial) within the city of Gresham’s boundary. The levy would require a simple majority vote of 50% + 1 to pass.

Who pays for a levy?
Property owners in Gresham pay for the levy. The cost is added to their property tax bills, and the amount each owner pays varies based on the assessed value of their property, not the real market value.

While Gresham is home to a few tax-exempt multifamily housing complexes, for all other multifamily properties, the cost of the levy would be paid by the property owner. Landlords would determine whether or not to charge their tenants for the proportional levy costs.

What does “assessed value” mean and how is it different than the value of my home?
When you buy or sell a home, the price paid is the “real market value.”  If you’ve owned your home for a while, your real market value can be estimated by a real estate agent or via public websites like Zillow.
However, the levy is not based on the real market value of your home. It is based on the “assessed value” of your home. Due to Ballot Measure 50, enacted by voters statewide in 1997, the assessed value is based on its real market value in 1995, minus 10%, plus 3% a year. Newer development and improvements get an initial assessed value based on a fraction of their market value at the time, which then increases 3% a year. As a result, the assessed value is typically much less than the real market value.

You can find the assessed value of your property on the Multnomah County Property Records page. Choose “continue as a guest” to use this service for free.

Would the levy replace the current Police, Fire and Parks Fee?
No. The levy would be in addition to the Police, Fire and Parks Fee. The $15 per month fee paid on utility bills funds just 9% of existing public safety services. Of the total fees paid, 95% is spent on public safety and 5% on parks. The fee is essential but not enough to meet the growing need for additional firefighters and police officers to enhance public safety.


Why doesn’t the city pay for enhanced fire and police from its existing general fund budget?
The city of Gresham currently has a shortfall of almost $19 million for its 24/25 fiscal year general fund budget that the city council must close when it adopts a balanced budget in June. This is for current service levels without new positions.


The shortfall stems from many economic factors, including increased demand for services and population growth, rising costs driven by inflation that impact the city the same as individuals and families, lower growth in property tax revenue from Measure 50 limitations, and the volatility of city business income tax. Typically, city revenues have increased about 3% each year while expenses have increased by about 6% per year. 

But even with budget uncertainty, the city council wants to prioritize and enhance public safety and emergency response. A new levy dedicated to public safety will do that. A levy will not only help stabilize existing fire and police funding but allow the city to hire more fire and police personnel to enhance public safety.

A voter-approved levy is the most feasible tool that the City Council can use to provide sufficient revenues to significantly enhance public safety. Property tax growth is capped by state law, revenue-sharing from the state is uncertain and subject to the actions of the state legislature and the city business income tax goes up and down with the overall economy.

For context, for the fiscal year 2023/24, the city of Gresham General Fund revenue is approximately $92.7 million for a population of about 114,000 (2021) while the City of Hillsboro General Fund revenue is approximately $164.3 million for a population of 107,000 (2021).

Given that city government is asking taxpayers to pay more for enhanced fire and police services, how has the city tightened its belt and contained costs?
Historically, Gresham has taken a conservative approach to budgeting and spending. In the past three years, the city eliminated 30 positions, including several high-level management jobs, and cut $8.7 million in expenses from its adopted budget. Most recently, the city cut three positions and didn’t fill five open positions to realize cost savings. The city has carefully used federal (ARPA) funds and increased the monthly Police, Fire and Parks fee to avoid making cuts to public safety.

But even as the city takes a responsible approach to budgeting, spending, and controlling costs, it can no longer afford to defer needed investments in more firefighters and police officers to meet the growing demand and need for enhanced public safety. A dedicated levy is necessary to retain existing fire and police personnel and hire more for the future.

In addition to controlling costs and pursuing a levy, the city is also aggressively pursuing federal, state and county grants to bring tax dollars back to Gresham. In the past year, the city has secured more than $30 million in grants for various programs and projects, including park upgrades, transportation improvements and youth violence prevention programming.
Homelessness is a big concern in Gresham. If this levy doesn’t contain new funding for homeless services, how is the city addressing funding for homeless services?
When homelessness impacts public safety, the addition of new fire and police personnel will help address it. As for new funding and resources, Gresham is actively working to receive our fair share of funding from Multnomah County from the existing regional homeless services tax. This year, the county government has more than $250 million available to spend on homeless services. In addition, the city is seeking state, federal, and Metro funds to address homelessness.
When is the election?
The election is on Tuesday, May 21. Ballots will mail to voters starting May 1; postmark by May 21 or turn in by 8:00 pm on May 21.
Multnomah County Elections official ballot drop sites.


How do I register to vote?
You may register to vote, check your registration, or update your registration on the Oregon Secretary of State’s website.


The deadline to register or update your registration is April 30.

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