Posted: Mon, May 21 2012 at 6:38 PM, Updated: Mon, May 21 2012 at 6:58 PM
Josephine County Commissioners are looking at options to fill what is most likely the steepest cut to public safety in a long time. Voters rejected a property tax levy to fund public safety and county government isn't going to let the governor step in.
Josephine County is making national headlines after voters turn down a property tax levy to support public safety. A county that has long relied on federal timber payments and who is now the first county in the state to topple. With nearly 125 layoffs and a threatened criminal justice system, government leaders are looking into every possibility to fill budget gaps left as a result of cuts to federal timber funds and a rejected tax levy-- but they wont be going to the governor for help.
Josephine County residents could become the first ever in the state to see a sales tax. County leaders are want to impose a three percent sales tax to cover budget costs left behind as a result of cut federal timber payments. The other kind of tax is one that voters saw in 2008, it failed by a wide majority. Earlier in the year a house bill was passed with flying colors that would allow the governor to declare a county as fiscally distressed, but only if the county requested the action. the state team would examine how Josephine County spends money and make suggestions. Commissioner, Simon Hare says the county overall is doing okay but public safety is in jeopardy, including the jail where they plan to start releasing inmates. While Josephine County won't ask for outside help.sheriff Gil Gilbertson says there's been talk for a long time about merging city and county law enforcement. After voters turned down a property tax levy that would have supported criminal justice they have to consider all options. in a county that has the lowest county tax rate in the state. Voters were unmoved to raise it.
Now, commissioners are saying they may have to try voters again in a different way. hoping some kind of tax will pass, next time. The Oregon Legislatures Join Task Force on county payments will meet tomorrow. Josephine County leaders say they will also be in that discussion while they look for a solution.