Voters in University Place, Eatonville and unincorporated Pierce County have until Tuesday at 8 p.m. to cast their ballots in a special election that will decide tax measures for schools, parks and emergency services.
In addition, voters in unincorporated Pierce County get to cast an advisory vote on whether the sale of recreational marijuana should be allowed in their parts of the county.
Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson predicts voter turnout of from 33 to 35 percent.
Here’s what voters need to know:
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Ballot return deadline
Ballots must be postmarked no later than Election Day or placed in a ballot drop box by 8 p.m. on election night. County officials ask voters to return ballots as early as possible.
There are 30 locations where you can drop off your ballot without using a stamp. Boxes will close at 8 p.m. on election night.
To pinpoint the location most convenient to you, see co.pierce.wa.us/elections and click on the “Ballot Drop Boxes and Voting Centers” link under “Voter Resources.”
Four places to cast your ballot in person will be open 7 a.m.-8 p.m. on Election Day.
▪ Gig Harbor Civic Center, 3510 Grandview St.
▪ Pierce County Election Center, 2501 S. 35th St.
▪ Puyallup Library, 324 S. Meridian
▪ TACID: Tacoma Area Coalition of Individuals with Disabilities, 6315 S. 19th St.
You can click on the link co.pierce.wa.us/elections for information.
Here’s a summary of each ballot measure:
Pierce County Advisory Vote No. 1
Voters in unincorporated Pierce County have been asked to decide whether recreational marijuana should be allowed in unincorporated parts of the county.
The vote is nonbinding, but some members of the Pierce County Council have said it would guide how they approach production, processing and distribution of recreational marijuana in the county.
The council voted at the end of 2015 to lift a “de facto” ban on marijuana business effective July 1. If voters say yes to allowing pot businesses, the council has indicated it would do nothing to change removal of the ban.
If unincorporated voters vote no, County Councilwoman Joyce McDonald, R-Puyallup, has promised to bring forward an amendment that would reinstate the ban before it is lifted.
Bethel School District
For the second time this year, the Bethel School District is asking voters to pass a $236.7 million bond measure. It would pay for a long list of improvements, including partial replacement and modernization of the 64-year-old Bethel High School, a new elementary school and an aquatic center that would be used by students but open to the community.
The measure failed to gather the required 60 percent approval in a February election. But it came close enough — with 57.4 percent approval — that district officials decided to try again.
Eatonville School District
The Eatonville School District is asking voters to approve a bond measure for the first time since 2006.
The nearly $19.5 million Eatonville measure would pay to upgrade athletic fields at Eatonville High School and Eatonville Middle School, including a new grandstand at the high school.
It also would pay for new technology, new spaces for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education and safety measures, such as better radios for bus drivers who transport students in remote areas of the district.
East Pierce Fire & Rescue
The measure, if approved, would set next year’s taxes for fire district homeowners for emergency medical services at 50 cents for each $1,000 of assessed valuation. That is the same amount voters approved several years ago. But because of Initiative 747, approved by voters in 2001, the district can’t collect the full amount. To stay within the boundaries the initiative dictates, the rate per $1,000 has fallen from 50 cents per thousand to this year’s 44 cents.
Initiative 747 allows voters to tax themselves at a higher rate if a majority of voters approve.
Approval of the measure would raise the district’s revenues by about $600,000 annually.
University Place Metropolitan Park District
University Place voters will be asked to decide whether to form a new taxing district to maintain the city’s recreation programs.
The new district would fall within the city’s boundaries and could collect a maximum tax of 75 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.
Simultaneously, voters will choose five commissioners to lead the metropolitan park district. The commissioners will be responsible for determining how the district operates, including setting the tax rate.
If voters reject the park district measure, the commissioner election will be moot. It also means the city of University Place will cease offering recreation programs starting in 2017.
News Tribune staff writers Debbie Cafazzo, Brynn Grimley and John Gillie contributed to this report.