Talent not to reconsider jail proposal

TALENT, Ore. — (Updated: 12/18/19- 12:05 a.m.)  Talent City Council decided not to reconsider the county’s jail proposal.

“As it stands now, Talent will not be part of the service district,” said Sandra Spellicsy, city manager for the City of Talent.

During Wednesday nights council meeting, councilors and the public discussed the idea of switching that vote. Some residents came to ask councilors to reconsider while others came to praise councilors for their decision to vote against.

“None of the council members of who voted in the prevailing side, none of them agreed to reconsideration so therefore under the county rules, it couldn’t be brought up again,” said Spellicsy.

The idea to reconsider comes after the city of Ashland voted for the jail proposal in early December. That decision left some Talent employees wondering where that leaves their city if the jail proposal moves forward. Sheriff Sickler said if Talent is using the new jail but not paying for it, everybody else is going to be paying more. It could also limit some of the free services the sheriff’s office already provides Talent.

“It’s uncharted territory,” said Spellicsy. “We don’t really know what that looks like. As of tonight, it looks like there will be enough jurisdictions agreeing to go forward that at least the vote will take place in May.”

So far, Talent’s the only Rogue Valley city to reject the plan. Medford City Council will vote on the jail proposal on Thursday. City officials expect it to pass and go to voters to consider in May.

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“We’ll see if given what’s happened with the votes in some of the other cities if they want to take a second look,” said Sandra Spellicsy, city manager for the City of Talent.

In November, Talent rejected Jackson County’s latest new jail proposal.

However, Spellicsy says that all could change on Wednesday night if council members vote again.

“One of the four members who voted against passing the resolution would have to ask the council to move for reconsideration,” she said.

Spellicsy says mental health services are a huge concern for her city’s councilors.

“Of course the county’s position is we don’t do mental health,” Spellicsy said. “But within that context they hope to do the best they can.”

Now, Spellicsy says circumstances have changed.

Ashland voted “yes” to the new jail in early December leaving Talent wondering where that leaves their city if the jail proposal moves forward.

“What position does that put the city of talent in if our community isn’t contributing to the cost of the new jail? It’s all a big unknown,” she said.

Jackson County Sheriff Nathan Sickler says Talent using the new jail but not paying for it would mean everybody else pays more.

“If there’s a tax that’s assessed to the rest of the county minus Talent, we would have to figure a way to make things equitable so they weren’t getting things they’re not paying for,” he said.

Sheriff Sickler says it could also mean limiting some of the free services the sheriff’s office already provides Talent.

“We do all after-hours records management for Talent meaning if they need warrants we confirm those, if we need lead entries we help them,” said Sheriff Sickler. “Just a small example. Do we do that for free or do we charge now to try to re-coup costs in a different way,” he said.

The sheriff says it’s unclear what Talent could start paying for because this is a unique situation.

Talent’s meeting starts at 6:45 on Wednesday night.

Medford City Council will vote on the jail proposal on Thursday.

City officials expect it to pass and go to voters to consider in May.

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