New jail funding measure could increase utility fees

, Written by Kassi Nelson, Posted: Tue, June 17 2014 at 6:14 PM, Updated: Tue, June 17 2014 at 7:00 PM

Grants Pass, Ore. --Even though Josephine County residents voted down a public safety levy, people who live in Grants Pass could end up funding the jail anyway.

Wednesday night, the Grants Pass City Council will vote on an ordinance that would increase utility fees to pay for 28 jail beds.

Grants Pass Mayor Darin Fowler said it means the difference of having criminals on the streets or behind bars.

"People who were robbing cars in motel parking lots were getting a ticket and walking away. Now we can put them in jail overnight," Fowler said.

Residents would pay a flat rate of $3.75 per month. Businesses would be charged on a different scale with eight categories they could fall into.

Fowler said big businesses like Walmart, Fred Meyer, and Home Depot could pay $1,000 a month. But smaller businesses could pay anywhere from $70 to $100 a year.

"I think we need to do this to keep our tourism industry alive and keep our downtown safe," said Fowler.

But Diane Harwood, owner of Oregon Outpost and Primrose Lane in downtown Grants Pass, is skeptical about the added expenses. 

"I don't think it's going to do all the things they say it's going to do. I think we'll still have people sleeping in the alley or wherever. I don't think it will cut down on crime," Harwood said. 

The city added 30 jail beds last year. They were paid for with money from the city's general fund. But Fowler said that's not an option this year.

If the council passes the ordinance the fees will go into effect July 1st.


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About the Author

Kassi Nelson

NBC5 News reporter Kassi Nelson was born and raised in Nebraska. She graduated from the journalism school at University of Nebraska Lincoln where she studied broadcasting.

She also studied philosophy in the Czech Republic. Kassi has visited nine other countries including Sochi, Russia, where she reported on the preparations for the 2014 Olympic Games.

She loves skiing and live concerts!

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