Fifth time’s a charm for JoCo safety levy? Both sides weigh in on Measure 17.74

Grants Pass, Ore. — Among the measures Josephine County voters will weigh in on November 8th, is a 4-year levy aimed at generating funding for public safety. It’s the fifth tax levy proposal since 2012, the last four were all rejected. And while opponents of the measure are hoping for a fifth and final failure, those in favor feel the community is fed up enough with crime to push it through.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that we have a crime issue, and public safety issue,” Josephine County Sheriff Dave Daniel says.

The Josephine County Sheriff’s Office is not taking a position on county Measure 17.74, but Sheriff Dave Daniel says it’s no secret the county is lacking in public safety resources.

“We don’t have deputies out there 24 hours a day protecting the community,” Sheriff Daniel says, “that’s ridiculous.”

A ballot measure in the hands of Josephine County voters looks to change that. Measure 17.74 is a 4-year property tax levy aimed at generating approximately 10-million dollars a year for law enforcement. That means property owners would pay an additional $1.42 for every $1,000 dollars of assessed property value, or about $24 more dollars a month for a home valued at 200-thousand dollars.

A 5-person citizen oversight committee would ensure money is spent only on public safety, which would include things like increasing the number of patrol deputies, providing increased resources for prosecution, enhancing treatment programs, and adding more jail beds.

“None of those funds can be used for any other purposes,” Colene Martin says.

Those in favor of the levy say people are fed up.

“Not having law enforcement does make this a desirable place to live- for criminals- that’s the problem,” Josh Balloch says.

“It is becoming more rampant, we’re seeing more crimes happening, we’re seeing more people moving into the community knowing that we can’t do anything about the situation,” Martin adds.

Supoorters say it’s imperative that public safety be well-funded so that the community is a desirable place for current and future residents to live, work, and play.

“My biggest desire is for us to get jobs in this community, for us to move this county forward,” Martin says.

Those against the levy say the county should have seen this funding issue coming.

“The county has known for 25 years that the day would come where we would lose our [federal] funding,” Bill Hunker says.

Opponents say the citizens of the county have said time and time again they don’t want to pay.

“They’ve just tried to do a levy, tried to do a levy, tried to do a levy,” Hunker says.

“It’s a fallacy that there isn’t funding,” Mark Seligman says, “there’s funding, the road department has plenty of money.”

“We do need the money, whether we can find an adequate amount of funding, we’ll never go back to where we were because that was free money from the government and they’re not doing that anymore,” Hunker says.

Hunker says they have to look at the funding they already have and see what if anything can be allocated to public safety.

The folks in favor of Measure 17.74 say it’s no different than all other goods and services that have gone up in cost over the years, and so public safety expenses have become more expensive too.

 

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