McHaddad: Is there a $100 charge on your property taxes?

To the Editor:

Many Union County property owners will notice a $100 service charge for “BMTV” on their property taxes this fall. Blue Mountain Translator District has been broadcasting channels from Portland and Boise since 1978, and we collect revenue through a system of service charges. Every June, BMTD mails service charge letters to all properties in our rural district where signals can be received, and properties within city limits where an antenna was discovered during a physical inspection.

Property owners must send in a voter-approved payment of $100 for use of the signals or request an exemption by the following May, and BMTD has initiated the courtesy of sending a second letter to delinquent property owners every winter to ensure that no one is billed improperly. If BMTD does not receive the letter, the service charge is automatically entered onto the following year’s property taxes as a lien.

BMTD sent service charge letters in June 2017 and reminder letters in March 2018 that were due back on May 31. A sample of returned service charge letters from Union County was audited to ensure accurate entry in our database, and Assessor Cody Vavra reviewed our initial delinquent property list to ensure that ineligible properties were removed.

Entry of the charge on 2018-2019 property taxes was approved by BMTD’s elected board of directors on June 12. This process is authorized by ORS 354.690, and BMTD has taken steps to ensure that these statutes are correctly implemented.

For more information about this process and our policies, visit or call 541-963-0196.

Alex McHaddad

BMTD secretary/treasurer

Whitaker: Seeds of change have been sown

To the Editor:

The 2018 midterm elections are now behind us. All residents of Union and Wallowa counties owe a big thank-you to the La Grande Observer for publishing so many letters from many perspectives on behalf of many candidates and issues during the campaign. Coverage by the Observer was an excellent example of freedom of the press in action.

As chair of the Union County Jamie McLeod-Skinner for Congress Campaign, I am grateful for our many supporters who wrote letters, knocked on doors, distributed hundreds of yard signs, made phone calls, staffed our office, leafletted at grocery stores, baked cookies, walked and talked, made the EOU Homecoming Parade and tailgating great successes for
Jamie’s campaign, proved that many small contributions can compete against massive corporate dark money donors, and volunteered in many other ways.

While we did not win the election this time, we have shown that a candidate who is not afraid to listen to her constituents, who supports the well-being of ordinary citizens in her congressional district and who is willing to fight to ensure that all of us have access to affordable, quality health care is a viable candidate. Together we have laid the foundation for future success.

The seeds we have sown are sprouting. The 2020 harvest is only two years away. Together, we will prevail.

Bill Whitaker

La Grande