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Josephine County Rejects Levy

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GRANTS PASS, Ore. — Once again, voters in Josephine County turn down a public safety levy that would have increased property taxes to help fund the sheriff’s office and jail.

Another public safety levy and another failure in Josephine County. Now the question is, what it means for the future of the sheriff’s office, the jail and other departments. The levy would have increased property taxes to 1.48 per $1,000 of assessed value.

Tuesday night, voters defeated the levy by the slimmest margin in the past five years, at 51 percent against. The funding decisions now fall to the county commissioners.

Sheriff Gil Gilbertson said his department would need an additional 649 thousand dollars in order to keep its status quo of three patrol deputies and 100 open beds in the county jail. Without it, he says he will have to continue to close jail space, and reduce patrols further, but he says to get that funding, other cuts must be made in the county.

County Commissioner Simon Hare said they will address all options moving forward to figure out how to limit the impact on the public as best they can. They will be meeting with the leaders of county departments to hash out where the budget can be cut, and which departments will receive the priority funding.

Sheriff Gilbertson says other counties have taken notice. He says Wednesday morning, he received calls from other sheriffs across Oregon, trying to learn how they could adapt to a situation like what Josephine County is facing.