Options: State Of Fiscal Distress

, Posted: Fri, April 13 2012 at 6:11 PM, Updated: Fri, April 13 2012 at 6:35 PM

A looming budget crisis could force Josephine County  commissioners to throw in the towel and allow the governor to take over public safety operations

State Representative, Wally Hicks (R) says there are basically three options. The fourth, relying on federal timber funds to come, is not going to happen. With that off the table, voters can choose to pay more in property taxes, reduce sheriff patrols to three deputies and one dispatch employee, or let the governor take over the public safety services in the county. Josephine County leaders are waiting to see if voters come through with a saving grace. Approving a $1.99 increase in property taxes fully supporting their public safety department. Option 2 comes through House Bill 4176 which essentially opens the door for the county officials to let the governor in and proclaim an emergency plan to restore public safety services. It would also allow a board, some from the state and some from the county go through previous operations to see if things are running efficiently. In 2008 JOCO residents were facing a similar tax levy but turned it down. Services were saved by federal dollars but in 2012, that money is not expected to come. Even if it did it would be here in time. By July, commissioners will be forced to reckon with their budget and if residents turn down the tax levy, the county will have only two choices to save the sheriff. They can let the sheriff go broke, or invite the governor to step in and overhaul public safety under HB 4176 which county commissioners have not agreed to follow through with.The county might not have a choice. The sheriffs department may wind up inadequate to protect the public. Then it's a wait and see game what happens next.

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