Citizen Group, Sheriff Moving Forward

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GRANTS PASS, Ore. — Another year, another levy to help fund the Josephine County Jail on the May ballot, and another defeat by voters. Sheriff Gil Gilbertson said he has a plan in place to move forward without additional funding.

As of now, with no additional funding, Sheriff Gilbertson said his department will be at status quo with 38 employees and 70 jail beds heading into next fiscal year. Only two of those employees are patrol deputies, but with a million dollar grant in the county’s hands for roads, the sheriff said getting a chunk of that would make a big difference.

“What that would do is provide me with four more patrol deputies and two more dispatchers. So, in a sense, we’ll double our work force and have two, eight hour shifts, five days a week instead of one,” said Sheriff Gilbertson.

The sheriff said he’s also exploring other options, including reaching out to Salem for help.

“I’m also going to be sending some requests to the legislation to see if we can come up with some other funding streams as well,” Sheriff Gilbertson.

The levy that was voted down Tuesday was started with a petition from citizen group Securing Our Safety. Spokesman Pat Fahey said something must be figured out.

If there’s a light at the end of a tunnel in 2016, it’s a train. So our task now, as far as S.O.S, is to look at what the voters told us because they sent a message,” said Fahey.

While nothing will be solidified before the sheriff’s election in November, Fahey said they’ll reach out to opponents.

“We’re going to try and engage the opposition groups in some sort of dialogue,” said Fahey.

The sheriff said not getting additional funding just means moving on as best they can.

“We’re not going to just sit here and lament, wah wah, we didn’t get our money. We’re going to find every way we can to support law enforcement in our community,” said Sheriff Gilbertson.

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  1. Jimmy Zelski says:

    Why the levy failed, according to those I know who voted against it:

    1. The county doesn’t use taxpayer money efficiently enough. You don’t give a raise to an employee who isn’t performing well. When the county does all it can to use taxpayer money efficiently, it will find it needs less of it, and in the process will garner more support for any additional needed funds because people will trust that they’re not simply being asked to throw good money after bad. If the county feels it’s already using money efficiently, it should make efforts to inform the public of that with examples.

    2. Property owners feel the levy puts an unfair burden on them to support county services, when non property owners benefit from those services as well. They feel they are being singled out to bankroll a service that all residents should be financially responsible for.

    3. The cost is too high. A homeowner with a $200,000 place would have to pay an additional $238 on top of their current annual property taxes. The feeling is that if 1 and 2 above were implemented, the cost would be much less.

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