Restaurant tax coming to Cannon Beach, southern Oregon dam gets repair money in Tuesday’s vote

Most school, fire districts with taxing measures on Tuesday’s ballot won approval in the special election. One county considers a move to Idaho.

By: - November 3, 2021 7:41 am

The historic Crook County Courthouse in Prineville, a landmark for travelers, will be replaced after voters on Tuesday, Nov. 2 approved a bond measure. (Creative Commons)

Prineville will get a new courthouse, Mill City will allow marijuana sales and Harney County becomes the latest county to take on the idea of moving portions of Oregon to Idaho – all the result of voter action in the special election held Tuesday.

In local results, voters supported most tax requests for law enforcement and school building improvements.

Here’s a look at some of the measures around the state and unofficial results:


In Cannon Beach, voters approved a 5% sales tax on restaurants to fund the Cannon Beach Rural Protection District and to pay for a new city hall and police station. The vote: 52%-48% yes.

In Newport, voters turned down a 5% sales tax on restaurants that would have added more police, add bilingual staff to the library and repair city buildings and parks. The vote: 68%-32% no.


In Mill City, voters decided to allow marijuana sales after voting in 2016 to prohibit them. The vote: 60%-40% yes (56-38).

In Estacada, voters approved a 3% tax on marijuana sales. The vote: 69%-31% yes.


In Corvallis, voters decided to amend the city charter to make it gender-neutral in 32 instances. The vote: 68%-32% yes.

According to the city’s ballot statement, “The gender of city officers as set out in the charter is irrelevant to the ability of the person to do the work of the city. Qualified people who do not identify their gender within the binary of male or female should not be excluded from city offices by language in the charter.”


In Crook County, voters agreed to retire the iconic courthouse, built in 1909. They supported a $35 million to build a new courthouse in Prineville and convert the old one to offices. The vote: 65%-35% yes.

“It’s a landmark for our community,” Steve Lent, historian at the Bowman Museum in Prineville, recently told the Central Oregon Daily News. “It’s just a very historic building, and I don’t think anyone wants to see that building go away.”


Harney County became the eighth in Oregon to require county commissioners to consider a shifting of boundaries to move large chunks of the state into Idaho. The vote: 63%-37% yes.

Voters in Union, Baker, Grant, Lake, Malheur, Sherman and Jefferson counties earlier approved similar measures.

“Rural Oregon is declaring as loudly as it can that it does not consent to being misgoverned by Oregon’s leadership and chooses to be governed as part of a state that understands rural Oregon’s values and way of making a living,” according to a statement from Mike McCarter, president of Move Oregon’s Border. “We call on the Oregon Legislature to not dare to hold these counties captive.”


Voters in the Yachats Rural Fire Protection District turned down a tax levy to support the coastal fire service’s operations. The vote: 56%-44% no.

A ballot statement supporting the measure explained, “Since 2007, the number of volunteer firefighter/EMTs has decreased from 14-16 to 2-3. This required hiring 5 additional full time paid firefighter/paramedics. Today, salary costs consume 80% of YRFPD’s budget. For the last two years, YRFPD has had to borrow money to sustain operations.”

Elsewhere, voters did approve money for fire protection districts, among them North Albany (83%-17% yes), Williams (79%-21% yes), Illinois Valley (81%-19% yes) and Seal Rock (69%-31% yes)


Voters in the Winchester Water Control District agreed to $3 million in taxes for work on the Winchester Dam on the North Umpqua River. The vote: 92%-8% yes.

According to the ballot measure, the money will be used to repair the dam and “pay fines, penalties, judgments, legal fees and other costs.”

Those costs likely arise from litigation led by WaterWatch Oregon.

“The disintegrating, 17-foot-high, 130-year-old Winchester Dam is maintained solely to create a private waterski lake for surrounding landowners, but it kills, injures, or delays salmon and steelhead trying to access 160 miles of high quality habitat upstream,” the organization said on its website.

But the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said fish counts have remained steady for decades.


In Curry County, voters said no to forming a new South Coast Parks and Recreation District. The vote: 61%-39% no.

The district would have provided recreational programs and provided for open spaces, according to the ballot statement.

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Les Zaitz
Les Zaitz

Les Zaitz is a veteran editor and investigative reporter, serving Oregon for more than 45 years. He reported for The Oregonian for 25 years and owns community newspapers and a digital news service. He is a national SPJ fellow, two-time Pulitzer finalist, including for a lengthy investigation of Mexican drug cartels in Oregon and five-time winner of Oregon’s top investigative reporting award. He has investigated corrupt state legislators, phony charities, and an international cult that moved to Oregon, and the biggest bank failure in Oregon history. He also has been active in reforming the state’s public records law and was appointed by the governor to the Oregon Public Records Advisory Council. In his spare time, he operates a ranch nestled in a national forest, feeding horses and assorted animals.