Voters gave a comfortable margin of victory to the five-year Clatsop County Fair levy. But it wasn't until a late surge of ballots was collected Tuesday night by the county elections department that the levy's passage was assured.
"It was a real roller-coaster ride last night," said fairgrounds manager Angela Sidlo. "It really came down to the wire."
It was unclear until about 10 p.m. whether at least 50 percent of county voters cast ballots. State law mandates that money measures voted on in a non-general election can only pass with at least a 50-percent voter turnout.
The levy passed by a vote of 5,707 yes to 4,282 no. But the county barely reached the 50-percent turnout threshold, and then only with a late collection of about 800 ballots.
Levy supporters made phone calls to local residents in the election's final day, urging them to turn in their ballots no matter which way they intended to vote, Sidlo said.
The levy will raise between $350,000 to $390,000 a year for five years to provide stable funding for the financially struggling facility south of Astoria. The money, which will be collected beginning in November, will pay for repairs and maintenance, marketing and other needs.
The first major project the fair board will likely tackle is building more parking, Sidlo said.
The fairgrounds, located on Walluski Loop Road south of Astoria, have struggled to break even since they opened in the mid-1990s, and the county has subsidized the operations for several years. Without the passage of the levy, the facilities would likely have been closed except for the county fair and a handful of other events.