Grants Pass, Ore.– Shouting, cursing and scoffing. That’s how some Josephine County residents responded to an idea from County Commissioner Cherryl Walker Wednesday morning.
Walker is drafting a letter to Governor Kate Brown, asking the Governor to declare a public safety fiscal emergency in the county. Before the commissioners can even take a vote on the proposal, the public made sure their voices were heard.
“If you’re not going to let people speak, you’re not going to get elected Cherryl Walker,” shouted an angry citizen.
To which Walker responded, “If there are any further outbursts I will not allow anyone to speak for the rest of the meeting.”
Josephine County citizens up in arms. Many upset at Commissioner Walker’s proposal to draft a letter to Governor Brown, asking her to declare a public safety fiscal emergency in the county.
If approved, it could lead to the state matching county funds for law enforcement, that could bring about a new tax.
“Never cease to amaze me at the different ways you come up with to take our money,” said a disgruntled audience member.
Person after person took to the mic during the public comments section. The overwhelmingly negative responses echoed throughout the meeting leading walker to shut it down.
“There will be no further public comment,” said Walker.
Commissioners Simon Hare and Keith Heck tried to calm the crowd. Eventually reopening the floor to the public.
While one citizen spoke up in support of Walker’s letter to Governor Brown, she says there are more people out there. The proposed letter could be the county’s last option when it comes to public safety funding according to Walker.
Meanwhile, Commissioners Heck and Hare both say they need more information before taking a vote.
“My biggest issue right now is what can we do different,” Heck says.
“It’s something that’s never been done before in the state of Oregon,” says Hare.
Commissioners will meet next Thursday in a work session where Walker’s draft letter to the Governor will be reviewed. All three commissioners say whatever decision is made, a long road lies ahead for Josephine County’s public safety funding.
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