Discussion of possible new Josephine Co. Fire District continues

GRANTS PASS, Ore.– Josephine County voters will consider the creation of a new fire district outside grants pass on the May 2021 ballot.

Commissioners first started developing the plan a couple years ago.

“I am in favor of the district, we’re in need for the district,” said Josephine County’s newest commissioner Herman Baertschiger. He continued by saying he worries voters will be scared off by the price.

“I think that’ll kill it. I was a descent on the decision because of the dollar amount,” said Baertschiger.

Voters in may will vote on the plan, and also who will serve on the new fire district’s board, something the commissioner has backed since the beginning.

“My proposal was for the commissioners to establish the district, let the board go to the ballot for the formation of the board, once the board is elected in let the board decide what the dollar amount would be.”

The commissioner’s concern is that Rural Metro, a private organization, will be tapped to run the district because it is already operating in the area.

Rural Metro chief Austin Prince says, “For the last 40 years, Rural Metro has been serving this community, using the same model that fire districts typically use.”

Prince also said it make sense for the organization and for the people who already pay them to protect their homes.

“It could be a decrease in the annual rate that people are already paying to rural metro. For basically the same service. It includes all the same stations, the number of fire apparatus, the number of employees that are hired,” said Prince.

Rural Metro charges a fixed rate per month.

If the district is created, regardless of how the plan comes together, the new tax that comes with it will cost homeowners at a rate of $1.74 per $1,000 assessed property value.

Again, voters will get to decide if the plan is worth passing in may, and who will lead the board if it passes.

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