Today, a county plagued by deep cuts for several years may see the state step in. Josephine County is looking at the possibility of losing some local control to solve their budget crisis.
House Bill 3453 is headed to the Governor's desk, which means he could declare a "public state of emergency" in cash strapped counties like Josephine and Curry... "Keep your nose up in Salem," exclaims Josephine County resident Kurt Ramme.
As a result, counties could impose taxes..like a 911 surcharge.... without passing a levy. Which has Ramme heated up. "It's just more and more. Every time a tax payer or property owner tries to save, we get messed up some other way," he says.
The amended bill now works with the county's home rule charter. The charter states "Josephine County shall not establish an income tax." Commissioner Cheryl Walker tells us the amended bill gets around the prohibition, by allowing a tax to be implemented on 911 phone service.
"It would be up to the board of county commissioners to decide with the Governor if we were going to pursue that option," Walker says.
She also says the county is up against a wall... in three years they've reduced staff from 700 positions to around 260.
"I think what it does is provides a tool for the citizens of Josephine County to see how serious the situation is and what the state is trying to do to see this issue resolved," comments Walker.
This proposed law would not bring money in general to the county...just provide funds for additional law enforcement.
Half of the money coming from the state... the other half from local taxes.
"I feel let the people of Josephine County solve their own problems. If they want to help the sheriff's department, let them donate money," says Ramme.
Another option that commissioners are now considering.