Josephine County officials rally support for sales tax on Nov. ballot

GRANTS PASS, Ore.– Josephine County officials, ranging from commissioners to Sheriff Dave Daniel, held a press conference today to voice their support for a seasonal sales tax on the November ballot.

The proposal is a 3% sales tax that would run from April 15th through October 15th of every year.

The funds raised would go to support law enforcement.

The county said without it, it’s sheriff’s office would face cuts next year.

If passed, there is a provision that would allow county commissioners to apply the tax year-round, without voter approval.

Josephine County Commissioners aren’t hiding behind the unpopular idea of creating a new sales tax.

Commissioner Dan DeYoung said, “there are a couple negatives to this thing. First off, it’s a sales tax and that’s almost two swear words in a row in Oregon.”

Voters will weigh in on a new seasonal sales tax in Josephine County next month.

The funds raised would go directly to law enforcement agencies across the county.

Sheriff Dave Daniel said, “if the LERAT were not to pass, I would go down to potentially six patrol deputies. One actual patrol deputy and five contract deputies.”

Daniel said he’s expecting a $2.5 million dollar cut to his agency next year.

That could force them to decrease their patrols which are already at 20 hours a day.

Daniel said they could operate 24 hours a day if the tax passed.

“If it were to pass, we anticipate upwards of 40 to 41 deputies total,” he said.

Commissioner Dan DeYoung said the sheriff’s office would split the revenue with Grants Pass and Cave Junction, based on population.

“I’m treating this three percent as an investment in law enforcement to keeping myself safe, my family safe and all citizens,” DeYoung said.

County Commissioner Herman Baertschiger said declining federal timber payments, which have been going on for 20 years, necessitated the move.

DeYoung said they considered increasing property taxes, but that was quickly shot down by the community.

“We tried to take everything that didn’t pass, that failed before, and put it into one product,” he said.

The tax would also decrease the existing property tax levy for law enforcement, from $1.79 to $0.79 per $1000 of assessed value.

County commissioners said the sales tax is their best option for funding law enforcement.

DeYoung said, “the three percent sales tax came up and it’s got some good points, but it’s still a sales tax.”

We reached out to business owners in Grants Pass in July about the sales tax when the idea was first proposed, they worried it would hurt their bottom line.

The election is on November 8th.

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Former NBC5 News reporter Derek Strom is from Renton, Washington. He recently graduated from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communications at Washington State University with a degree in Broadcast News and a minor in Sports Management. He played in the drumline with the WSU marching band. These days, he plays the guitar and piano. Derek is a devoted fan of the Mariners, Seahawks, and Kraken.
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