GRANTS PASS, Ore. — Another year, another round of budget cuts for Josephine County.
“Today is the day that everyone has been trying to ignore for a while,” County Commissioner Keith Hick says.
The county approved a budget of a little more than $68 million but with revenues continuing to decline, some departments are having to do more with less.
“You’re fine tuning a very fragile structure,” Hick also comments.
The Sheriff’s Office continues to make cuts, with a budget of $5,559,000. Sheriff Gil Gilbertson said he will only have one deputy on patrol, in addition to three contract deputies in Cave Junction, marine patrol and BLM.
Gilbertson said in an emergency, he might be the only person who can respond. He’s taking on a heavier load, and he was so busy delivering notices Monday he could not meet for an interview.
Hick says, “The vast majority of folks have already been lost.”
And it’s a domino effect.
“We are still dependent on prosecution services by the District Attorney’s Office, of course, and adequate jail beds for accountability and sanctions for our offenders,” Abe Huntley adds.
Community corrections is funded by the state but county budget cuts mean there are no deputies to back up their work crews. Fewer arrests and prosecutions mean fewer people receiving help in the probation program, and it could mean smaller state funding for the program in the future.
“Many of them are continuing their addiction, which involves, many times, property crimes, and it affects the community in a lot of other ways,” Huntley says.