New Josephine Co. tax being considered to fund law enforcement

JOSEPHINE COUNTY, Ore. —Grants Pass and Josephine County leaders are considering an outside-the-box funding option, to help law enforcement staffing.

Josephine County Sheriff Dave Daniel met with city leaders Monday night, to discuss creating a new potential tax. The goal? To create a new permanent funding solution for law enforcement.
A sustainable funding stream, that’s what Josephine County Sheriff Dave Daniel is trying to achieve for all law enforcement in Josephine County. That’s the purpose behind this retail tax proposal

“We have a problem in law enforcement, we’re losing funding,” said Sheriff Daniel.

Over the years, Josephine County has struggled to find a permanent funding solution for its sheriff’s office. Sheriff Dave Daniel has been in law enforcement for 28 years and he says for the vast majority of it, law enforcement has been funded through multiple levies.

“There’s a whole lot of ebb and flow in that, and there’s dangers in not having sustainable suitable funding for a law enforcement agency because if you get a no vote on a levy you lose a lot of people, and in this day and age that’s dangerous,” said Sheriff Daniel.

Now he is trying to combat the issue, with a new idea. At Monday’s Grants Pass City Council work session, the sheriff proposed what’s being called a  “law enforcement retail activities tax.” Sheriff Daniel says the seasonal tax would go from April 15th to October 15th, to have an impact on tourists.

“The idea behind this is to get everybody to pay, there are a lot of people that come into our community and use our services and really get a free ride for lack of a better term. We think there should be something for law enforcement in that,” said Sheriff Daniel.

The proposal says a 3% tax would apply to the first $2,000 of any purchase. But many items would be exempt from the tax, The list includes unprepared food, prescription medication, internet access, small vehicle sales, motor vehicle fuel, liquor, tobacco products, and marijuana items. The sheriff’s presentation to city officials estimates the tax would generate around $4.4 million for Josephine County, around $3.7 million for Grants Pass, and $208,000 for Cave Junction.

“It looks like this would provide a fully funded sheriff’s office for the sheriff’s office at least in the patrol division, administration, detectives division to where we are up to 24.7 and will be able to provide an even better service than we are now,” said Sheriff Daniel.

Commissioner Dan DeYoung says he is in support of the tax but wants to put it to voters first. He says he has waited for years, to try and come up with a permanent funding solution to the problem.

“I would refer this to the voter because the voter needs to have their thumbs up or down, but it needs to have a chance in front of the voter, if not, we’re back to square one with property taxes and districts and so on and so forth that have proved really unpopular,” said Commissioner DeYoung.

The city council told the sheriff the idea was important enough to take it to voters directly. But nothing has been decided yet, by city or county officials. Sheriff Daniel says he is still fine-tuning exact numbers for the proposal, and the discussion will continue.

NBC5 News Reporter Jenna King is a Burbank native. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Sports Business. During her time at the U of O, she was part of the student-run television station, Duck TV. She also grew her passion for sports through interning with the PAC 12 Network. When Jenna is not in the newsroom you can find her rooting for her hometown Dodgers, exploring the outdoors, or binging on the latest Netflix release.
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