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Voters In Creswell To Decide On 24-Hour Policing and Marijuana

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Kyra Buckley/KLCC
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Creswell voters have some important decisions to make concerning public safety and marijuana. If passed, a property tax levy would provide 24-hour police services, something the city currently lacks. Voters will also have the option of reversing the City-imposed ban on marijuana businesses. KLCC’s Kyra Buckley dropped in to learn about those ballot measures and more.

Seth Clark and his wife Melissa own Creswell Coffee Company. They have lived in the city of Creswell for about three years.

Clark: “This is a very embracing community, at least for us. I’d say 80 percent of my business, maybe more, are regulars that I see five, six days a week. I know a lot of names and if I don’t know their name I can probably tell you what they drink.”

The population in Creswell is growing, partly thanks to families and business owners like the Clarks who want to live within 10 miles of a city like Eugene.

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Credit Kyra Buckley/KLCC
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Seth Clark and his wife Melissa own Creswell Coffee.

Lieutenant Billy Halvorson is with the Lane County Sheriff’s Department. He grew up in Creswell.

Halvorson: “When I was young and living there the population was about 1,500 and now it’s close to 5,200.”

There isn’t 24 hour police coverage in Creswell. Halvorson says the city contracts with the county for three deputies and a half time sergeant.

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Credit The Creswell Chronicle
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Lieutenant Billy Halvorson.

If measure 20-257 passes it would increase property taxes for five years, generating funds for three more deputies and bumping the sergeant to full time.

Seth Clark says he’s had stuff stolen from his coffee business. He supports the police levy and hopes it will decrease petty crimes.

Clark: “I walked out my front door one morning at four o’clock in the morning and there was a hose hanging out of my gas cap.”

Richard Zetterval is a member of the City Council and chair of the public safety committee. He says concerns like Clark’s are common.  Zetterval says the property tax levy took two years to put together.

Zetterval: “We've had opportunities for citizens to do online surveys, town halls, social media. We are trying our best to meet the needs of Creswell, and one of the other needs that they want is to have the opportunity to vote, so that's why we as City Council decided to move forward with the public safety levy at this time."

Zetterval says there are residents who are concerned about the cost of the levy. If it passes, the average Creswell homeowner will pay $340 a year in County property tax for policing; right now they pay $75 a year via a utility fee.

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Credit The Creswell Chronicle
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Creswell Mayor Dave Stram.

Dave Stram is Creswell's mayor. He says he hopes the policing levy addresses concerns he's heard about public safety. He's also looking ahead to two other measures concerning marijuana.
The first asks if the town of Creswell should prohibit retailers, producers, processors, and wholesalers of medical and recreational pot.

Stram: "If the measure fails then the question is should marijuana be taxed in Creswell, and this would only tax recreational marijuana retail sales."

Mayor Stram says everyone he's spoken to is in favor of banning pot shops in the town. But Seth Clark at Creswell Coffee says then the city misses out on state tax revenue. Municipalities that ban marijuana stores are not eligible to receive funds the state has collected in pot taxes.

Clark: "What's the purpose of legalizing marijuana and getting tax revenue that has far exceeded anybody’s expectations in volume and then not getting a piece of it because we don't want to be a player?"

Clark says he hopes voters choose measures that attract investments in Creswell.

Clark: "If we really want this town to flourish and to be all that it can be, we also need to find ways to get people here. It would be nice if we had a grocery store, it'd be nice if we were pro-business and allowed maybe new industries like recreational marijuana to be a part of this community."  

Ballots are due by 8 p.m. on Tuesday November 8th.

Follow Kyra Buckley on Twitter @krbuckle.