Josephine County Tax Levy Fails

, Written by Jennifer Elliott, Posted: Wed, May 22 2013 at 6:51 PM, Updated: Thu, May 23 2013 at 8:46 AM

According to officials, Josephine County Jail faces the real threat of closing. This after the Law Enforcement levy failed to pass.

NBC 5's Jennifer Elliott brings us more on what  the county faces following the results of the special election.

The majority has spoken: by 539 votes Measure 17-49 was shot down.

Now, officials are looking at an already stretched budget, trying to find ways to make it stretch even further.
 "12 13 14...." Josephine County Sheriff Gil Gilbertson ticks off the number of calls-for-help he gets each day, that he says just can't respond to.
"Right now I have 20 calls waiting for response, we average between 20-30 calls a day." 

Today, Measure 17-49 is dead. The law enforcement levy would have added a $1.48 per $1000 assessed value to county property taxes, essentially meaning $222 more a year for a home valued at $150,000. It would have generated an extra 9.1 million in revenue.
"We go down to one patrol deputy it's going to get a whole lot worse," says Gilbertson.

Currently the Sheriff's office runs on three patrol deputies, 2 people in court security and 100 jail beds, but Gilbertson tells us now:
Cut down to one patrol deputy, one person in court security and face the "real possibility of closing the jail."

Today, during a budget committee meeting the Sheriff's Department asked commissioners for 649 thousand to fill the gap and keep things status quo.

County Commissioner Keith Heck's response prior to the meeting wasn't optimistic:
"When there are no moneys, the reality is there are no moneys," He continues, "The only thing that has to be funded is the sheriff, you don't have to have a jail here. You can rent a bed in the Jackson County Jail and call it our jail."

Troubling news for Josephine County's Sheriff, "We're facing a crime dilemma."
For now, he says they'll just have to make do and move forward.

The situation has become so well known, that Gilbertson tells us the  BBC interviewed him this morning about his part in the county's fiscal dilemma.

What do you think? Sound off on our Facebook page and on Twitter, or leave a comment below.

About the Author

Jennifer Elliott

Jennifer Elliott anchors the primetime newscast FOX26 First News at Ten on NBC5’s partner station, KMVU/FOX26. She also reports for NBC5 News.

Jennifer began her career at NBC5 News in 2011 as a production assistant. Raised in Southern Oregon, she studied voice and piano while attending South Medford High School.

After graduating from Brigham Young University-Idaho, she returned home and added organ playing to her music repertoire. In addition to her musical talents, Jennifer is an award winning artist.

She has also co-hosted Southern Oregon’s Got Talent, the area’s premiere talent show. Jennifer is married and the mother of two young sons who keep her busy and very happy.

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