MEDFORD, Ore. – Grants Pass city officials were anxious Tuesday night, as residents decided whether or not to renew fees to benefit public safety.
The city says without approval, police and fire staffing will suffer.
City officials tell us for the past thirteen years, Grants Pass police and fire departments operated off of a $1.79 levy.
But it won’t be enough, because they also tell me that the city has a $16.5 million deficit.
The current levy raises about half that price, around $8 million per year.
Some city officials say raising the levy to $3.80 would cover the deficit.
But that isn’t being proposed, because they felt like constituents wouldn’t take to the increase.
Instead, the city is trying to renew the $1.79 levy for the next five years.
But the city will be discussing adding other fees to help supplement public safety and put a dent in the deficit.
Grants Pass City Councilor, Valerie Lovelace said, “what we’re really trying to do is bring stability to our funding for police and fire. So, the best bet would be to have it be part levy, partly something else. If we did not get the levy passed, then we’ll have to look for larger amounts of money to come from somewhere else.”
City officials say they will discuss what the other fees could be, like water fees or small sales taxes, on Monday.
But Councilor Lovelace says that the decision on the levy will let them know how much money they’re going to need to raise.
She also says that in the last two years, the city has already had to make $2 million in cuts to public safety.
These cuts have led to problems with staffing and stability, which was one of the leading reasons why former Fire Chief, Keith Larkin resigned just last month.
See the current vote count here.
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