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June 15th, 2005 Angela Valdez | News Stories
 

A SLICE OF STRIFE IN THE SUBURBS

Stats justifying Beaverton annexation dealt a blow.

     
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IMAGE: CHAD CROWE
One of Beaverton's key arguments for grabbing in neighborhoods now outside the city is taking a beating.

At a Beaverton City Council meeting last December, Police Chief David Bishop said city police responded to 65 percent of the service calls from September 2003 to October 2004 in a then-unincorporated area commonly known as the Peterkort subdivision just north of the Sunset Transit Center.

The city's response rate is important, as backers of Beaverton's annexation efforts have long argued that residents in unincorporated neighborhoods are getting city patrol services without paying taxes for them.

But a report prepared in May by the Washington County Sheriff's Office-using Beaverton police data obtained through a public-records request-shows city police handled none of those citizen-generated calls, and that sheriff's officers responded instead.

Sheriff Rob Gordon says the report sets the facts straight in the debate over annexation.

"It confirmed what our deputies were saying, and it just validates the work we are doing here," Gordon says. "It's tough to make a decision if the information is not entirely accurate."

In emails and letters debating the veracity of Beaverton's claims, Bishop further accused Gordon of making "personal attacks," while the sheriff said his deputies viewed the police statements as "deception."

Gordon and county officials are not opposed to annexation, which is being fought locally and in the Legislature by many of the to-be-annexed and their lawmakers. Local opponents have asked all along why they should pay more taxes for city services they don't want.

County elected officials say it makes sense for Beaverton to take over urban services over time as long as the city doesn't just cherry-pick wealthy residents and business. Handpicking tonier neighborhoods like Cedar Mill and Cedar Hills would leave the county responsible for poorer areas like unincorporated Aloha that have a higher need for law enforcement and make lower property-tax payments.

What the dispute between the sheriff's office and the city does highlight is the sheriff's anxiety over what it stands to lose with annexation.

Future annexation could eventually cause the county to lose funding for sheriff's deputies in areas that become part of Beaverton. On the flip side, continued population growth makes it unlikely that the sheriff's office will wither on the vine.

Bishop declined to comment on the specifics of the sheriff's office report, and Beaverton Mayor Rob Drake blames the dispute over police service to differing methodologies. "I think it's old news," he says. "Beyond that, I don't have any further comment."

 
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