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Fate Of Damascus Rests With Voters

OPB | Oct. 28, 2013 6:22 a.m. | Updated: Oct. 28, 2013 2:27 p.m. | Portland

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Oregon could lose a city next month. The fate of Damascus may rest as much on how many people vote, as it does on how they vote.

Rob Manning / OPB

Damascus became a city nine years ago. The city council has still not finalized state-required growth plans, and Damascus leaders have agreed to pay thousands of dollars in severance to a former city manager.

Chris Hawes with the campaign to dissolve the city of Damascus says if he only needed a majority “yes” vote, his side would win. But he needs a majority of all voters in town.

Hawes said, “A disincorporation petition, because of state law, requires that you get the ‘yes’ votes from 50 percent plus one of registered voters. It’s the only election in state law that requires that level.

They make it fairly easy to become a city, and pretty darn difficult to get out of it,” he explained.

Supporters of remaining a city say it’s better to have the community controlled locally, than to return to county oversight.

Dissolution would eliminate city taxes, meaning lower property tax bills.

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