Klamath Co, Klamath Falls officials considering law enforcement partnership

KLAMATH COUNTY, Ore.– The Klamath Falls City Council and the Klamath County Board of Commissioners discussed a potential partnership between city and county law enforcement at a recent meeting.

The sheriff’s office said having more law enforcement available could help them cover the urban growth boundary.

Commissioners and councilors agreed contracting Klamath Falls police officers to help the sheriff’s office could make sense for both organizations.

But the county sheriff said they would like to hear from residents first.

“On some level you get what you pay for, and services are not free,” Commissioner Kelley Minty said, “it’s not at all about merging per se, but it is about do we have more resources to dedicate to enhance the law enforcement services we can provide.”

City councilors and Klamath County commissioners discussed the idea of increasing law enforcement in the urban growth boundary, or UGB.

The proposal could also include annexing the UGB into Klamath Falls.

Commissioner Minty said the population of the UGB is around the same size as Klamath Falls.

She said it would be worthwhile to see how residents feel about adding law enforcement, even if it means increasing taxes.

Sheriff Chris Kaber said voters should decide whether they want to use funds normally dedicated to the sheriff’s office for Klamath Falls Police.

He said residents in the urban growth boundary have resisted similar ideas in the past.

Sheriff Kaber said, “I think the stated proposal, from what I understand, is the eventual annexation of the urban growth boundary into the City of Klamath Falls and if that’s what people in this community want, then that’s great, but I’m not sure what they want.”

Commissioner Minty said they would likely create a ballot measure to allow residents to vote on the proposal.

But covering the cost of adding law enforcement would likely mean an increase in property taxes.

Minty said the property tax rate per thousand dollars of assessed value is $7 in Klamath Falls and $1.70 cents on county land.

“We have to figure out if we can afford, based on our current funding levels, to pay for and contract and hire additional services,” Minty said, “and we need to know if that’s what people want.”

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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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