By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

County holds emergency session on fire district

Update 10:55 a.m. Wednesday:

Yamhill County Commissioners today held an emergency meeting to discuss their response to a measure on the upcoming May ballot, to form a new McMinnville fire district.

The city of McMinnville accidentally left some 250 tax lots off a map sent to the Department of Revenue, to certify the new district for taxing authority. The deadline to correct the error was March 31, but it wasn't discovered until around April 27. County Tax Assessor Derrick Wharff told the commissioners that means he won't be able to assess taxes against those lots for this year, but will be able to correct the problem and begin assessing taxes on them in July 2024.

County Clerk Keri Hinton said the Secretary of State's office advised her to proceed with no changes to the election.

She noted that the map in the voters pamphlet is accurate; it is only the map sent to the Department of Revenue that was in error.

McMinnville Mayor Remy Drabkin announced in a press release on Tuesday that the lots will be included in the new district — they lie within the existing rural fire district, and have always been intended to be included in the new consolidated district.

Drabkin said the city has "identified a pathway for the affected residents to join the Fire District if approved. Council Leadership has a proposed solution for the funding gap that would be created by the mapping error if the Fire District is approved."

County Commissioner Lindsay Berschauer said she questioned whether the lots would receive fire and emergency medical services, although County Counsel Christian Boenisch said it is his understanding that they will.

Commissioners have known about the issue for nearly two weeks, but had not previously discussed it publicly, and did not send out notice of the 9 a.m. Wednesday meeting until late Tuesday afternoon.

Berschauer said they wanted to first discover who was to blame and whether the election would be affected. In addition, they were investigating which maps were inaccurate, and seeking advice from the Secretary of State and the Department of Revenue.

Berschauer said the purpose of the meeting was to approve a statement to voters about the error.

"I would like to get a statement out today, ... we need to let these 251 tax lots know there is not going to be in practice what they think is happening, at the very least," Berschauer said. "The confusion is on the side of people who are voting and in this pocket of exclusion. Having this information would potentially change their mind."


Yamhill County Commissioners have called an emergency meeting for 9 this morning to discuss the proposed new McMinnville Fire District on the May ballot.

McMinnville Mayor Remy Drabkin announced yesterday that the city had learned a mapping error had led to the accidental exclusion of some 250 residents in the northwest area of the district, from taxing authority. Drabkin said the city is working with the county and state to find a solution; meanwhile, the election is continuing. 

For more information, see Friday's edition of the News-Register.

Note: A sentence has been added to clarify the article.



Commissioners have known about it for two weeks, but withheld that information????? Where's the transparency?


So the city left 251 lots off the tax roll. The NR did their job by spinning it to the commissioners delaying the release while they found out what the hell went wrong. Now here comes the rest of the “this county’s a dumpster fire, I can’t believe these commissioners “ comments.

Festival kicked it off.


Bigfoot: The News-Register did not mention the county delay until eight paragraphs down in an 11 paragraph story, the devoted the final graphs to the county's reasoning, with no rebuttal.
How on earth can that possibly be construed as spinning the story to make the county look bad? You've got to be kidding.
Devoted almost all of the story to the city's error, then let the county have its own unrebutted say about why it chose to hold off going public.
Wow. If that's skewing a story to make the county look bad, we did a really, really poor job.
If the author was out to make it all about the county, the story would have led with the county's decision to delay, then punished the county with pointed rebuttal from critics. In fact, the story featured nothing remotely of that sort, just a plain recounting of where things stand.


The county IS a dumpster fire, thanks to Bigfoot for reminding us :)


So there really is no drama in this deal as the illustrious commissioners would like to fan the flames into. It appears that 251 tax lots were left off the map and tax roll of the "new" district information that was sent to the DOR due to an inadvertent error. Thus, the simple answer to this is that those citizens will get free fire service for the first year of the new district. It would be interesting to have a news report of the total one year revenue loss through the inadvertent exclusion of the 251 tax lots. The Assessors Office should be able to produce that number almost instantly. For Commissioners to raise issues like "will those people get fire service?" is political hyperbole. Of course they will get fire service! No sky is falling, there was no need to delay information release for two weeks in order to hunt for the guilty. Yes indeed Bigfoot, the county is a complete dumpster fire. Has been for years and due to a continued lack of competent leadership it will be for the foreseeable future.


A small mapping error is not that big of a deal. It was an honest mistake and it will be corrected. Spinning it into a political football was the choice of the commissioners. BTW...This county isn't a dumpster fire at all...It's more like a tire fire.


Steve, The piece is about the city 'missing' 251 properties from the tax roles. I realize no one gets off paying taxes to the city of McMinnville, but I cannot help but wonder if the county had done this would it have been called a 'mistake' or an 'inadvertent error'. I agree that it was a mistake, but the problem is the NR stopped reporting about local government, specifically anything to do with the commissioners, objectively long ago.

And given the Cities recent funding issues, 2 million overspend tax that will never go away, scrounging money for a homeless shelter we cannot afford, playing 3 card monte with existing taxes for fire services if and when the new district passes, I would think they would get a little more scrutiny other than an oops.

Maybe these would have been better headlines...
"City Threatens New Fire District Funding With Property Tax Error"
"City Error Could Lead to Another Funding Shortfall" - Have we paid that $2 million dollars off yet?
"251 Properties Fall Off The Cities Taxing Radar."

About the dumpster fire, I do think that next election we should get some liberal leadership at the county, they have done a fantastic job financially with the city and I'm positive there's lots of that to spread around. How do I join Progressive Yamhill, can one of you sponsor me?


Are Commissioner Berschauer's quest to place blame and threats to not certify election results surprising now that we know that her main financial benefactors, the George family, had money on defeating this measure? It looks like the George's saved her skin with a boatload of money during the recall.


So the county commissioners knew about it 2 weeks ago but decided to keep it hidden to find out what was at fault? But they didn't bother telling us citizens who was at fault because more than likely it was 1 of them. We need to get rid of these commissioners next election and get people in there that don't hide things and don't have a far right agenda.

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