MEDFORD, Ore. – The Jackson County Sheriff is travelling from city to city, answering questions regarding a proposed new jail and tax service district to fund the building. Thursday’s Medford City Council meeting discussion on the subject ended abruptly.
In a 4 to 3 vote, Medford City Councilors voted to table the topic. Councilors said they wanted more time to ask questions about the proposal. They agreed to submit all questions by December 5th, ahead of their December 12th study session. Both County Commissioner Bob Strosser and Sheriff Nathan Sickler made it clear they would be available to councilors to answer all questions as they have been throughout the process. Strosser also reiterated that the councilors’ vote is not in favor or against the actual building of a jail, but whether or not the matter goes before voters. Following the study session, Medford City Council is hoping to put the item to a vote on December 19th.
Sheriff Sickler says as currently proposed the new jail would cost $171 million dollars. It would have 800 beds. For the average property owner in Jackson County, he says residents would pay an additional $167 dollars in annual property taxes. Sheriff Sickler told NBC5 News that grants are not given for construction. He did say law enforcement would attempt to secure grants for operation of a new facility, but that as grant funding is not guaranteed, they’re seeking a secure source of funding through a service district.
For a second time, the City of Talent has already struck down the proposal. Wednesday night the city’s Mayor Darby Ayers-Flood became the deciding vote, breaking a 3 to 3 tie. However, their no vote does not end the current proposal, as cities were given the option to still approve a jail without the City of Talent’s support.
Earlier in the week, the City of Ashland voted to delay a decision. Commissioner Bob Strosser said they are meeting with Ashland councilors on Friday to answer questions.
According to a timeline provided to the Sheriff, all the cities – excluding Talent – would need to vote ‘yes’ for the proposal by January 2nd for it to come to County Commissioners in time for the May 2020 ballot.
Stay with NBC5 News for complete coverage of this developing situation.