East Valley Central Middle School commons

East Valley Central Middle School sixth grade students crowd into the commons area to eat lunch on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022. The school district will ask voters in November to approval a capital levy to fund an expansion of the commons.

School measures in Mabton, Union Gap and East Valley and a bond for a new police station in Selah weren’t faring well in preliminary election results as of Wednesday.

Voters were supportive of renewing a levy for emergency medical services and training.

A total of 41,434 ballots had been counted as of Wednesday afternoon, with 16,500 left to count, according to the Yakima County Auditor’s website. More ballots will arrive by mail in the days to come.

School funding

About 49.7% of East Valley School District voters approved a levy that would fund construction at East Valley Central Middle School, 2,146 votes in favor and 2,170 against. The measure needs a simple majority of 50% plus one vote to pass.

“We’ll have to wait and see in the next few days,” East Valley Superintendent Russ Hill said Tuesday night.

The levy would raise about $5 million over two years to expand the commons area at East Valley Central Middle School. School officials said the current commons area is overcrowded as the district’s student population continues to grow.

In Mabton 53% of voters rejected a bond measure to expand and renovate Mabton Junior Senior High School, with 92 votes in favor and 104 against. The measure needs 60% voter approval.

“Time will tell,” said Mabton Superintendent Joseph Castilleja Tuesday night. “At the moment we are not passing but just a few votes make a big difference in a district our size.”

The measure would allow the district to issue $12.8 million worth of bonds to make security improvements, build a proper kitchen and expand the school building, so students no longer have to use “portable” classrooms, school officials said.

About 53.7% of Union Gap voters approved a bond measure for school improvements and construction, with 232 votes in favor and 200 against. The measure needs 60% to pass.

The $9.6 million worth of bonds would be used to improve security, expand parking and storage space, purchase new playground equipment and build an auxiliary gym.

EMS levy

An Emergency Medical Services levy was renewed by Yakima County residents, with 72.4% of votes in favor, and 27.6% against, or 29,152 for and 11,124 against, according to unofficial results. The levy has provided funding for emergency medical care and services since 1991.

This year, the levy of an estimated 25 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation raised over $4 million. The levy’s model dictates that 88.5% of the money raised goes toward EMS. The remaining 11.5% goes to the county’s 20 fire departments.

The funds go toward training, salaries, firefighting equipment, medical supplies and operating insurance.

Selah Police Department bond

A $12.7 million bond for a new Selah public safety building appears to be failing in early election returns.

In unofficial results Wednesday, the bond received 51.51% of votes for approval, or 763-729. To pass, the bond must receive support from at least 60% of voters casting ballots.

“It’s too close for comfort,” said Selah police Chief Dan Christman said Tuesday. “I shall remain optimistic.”

The bond would pay for the construction of a new building to house the city police department and the Selah Municipal Court on land the city owns on West Naches Avenue across the street from Robert Lince Elementary School.

Currently, the police operate out of a rented building at 617 S. First St. The city pays $5,000 a month for rent, in addition to covering the costs of maintenance and taxes.

If passed, the bond would increase the property tax rate by 59 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, which Christman said would work out to $14.75 a month for the owner of a $300,000 home.

Christman said he had not heard any of the bond’s critics offer a better plan. He said it would not be a wise use of the city’s money to renovate a building the city does not own, even if it seems cheaper on the surface.

Contact Vanessa Ontiveros at vontiveros@yakimaherald.com.

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