Firefighters campaign against Talent ballot Measure 15-216

TALENT, Ore. – Jackson County’s Fire District 5 went door to door Saturday morning to ask Talent residents to vote no on Measure 15-216.

Measure 15-216 would implement the City of Talent’s new Urban Renewal Plan known officially as The Almeda Fire Recovery and Revitalization Plan.

“It is about encouraging more affordable housing, improving city infrastructure, supporting economic revitalization, and decreasing risk and increasing our resiliency to natural disaster,” said Talent City Manager, Jordan Rooklyn.

The city said the plan comprises of 16 projects in total, including road and sidewalk improvements in the burn scare of the Almeda Fire. The plan is funded through reallocated taxes.

One of the government districts most affected is fire district 5. The city said almost $140,000 will be reallocated from the fire department’s budget each year for the next 20 years.

“I mean if that goes through, we would be looking at losing 100 to 200 thousand dollars a year, which is a pretty substantial number as we’re trying to rebuild, just like all the communities around us, we’re all rebuilding after The Almeda Fire,” said Brady Graham, Union President for Fire District 5.

Graham said these budget cuts, along with the $1.6 million the district lost after the Almeda Fire, will hurt its operations.

“The biggest impact for us we’ll probably see will be in the maintenance and replacement of apparatus and equipment which is crucial to being able to do our jobs,” said Graham.

Graham said another problem he sees with the urban renewal plan is its lack of fire-hardening practices.

“We are talking about streetlights, curbs, water pipes, water mains, sewers, and improving railroad crossings, those don’t help us during a fire, they also don’t help evacuation or recovery of a fire,” said Graham.

Proponents of the measure say the urban renewal plan will also install warning systems and make walking paths along Bear Creek removing fire-fueling vegetation in the process.

You can find more information on Talent’s Urban Renewal Plan on the Talent Urban Renewal Agency’s website.

The deadline to vote for Measure 15-216 is on election day, May 16th.

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