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Josephine County Voters Turn Down Public Safety Levy

May 15, 2012

By Sharon Ko

GRANTS PASS, Ore. — Many voters in Josephine County are keeping a close eye on the public safety levy. 57% voted against a property tax to fund law enforcement and without the money that levy would have provided; the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office says 70 pink slips will be going out Wednesday. Josephine County Sheriff Gil Gilbertson says within two weeks, dozens of criminals will be released from jail, back out on the streets.

During ballot drop offs in Grants Pass Tuesday, many residents who voted against the tax measure say — it’s a scare tactic and believe financial backing will somehow come through. The sheriff says there is no money and the voter’s decision Tuesday night is going to cut deep into the county.

The tax measure proposed a dollar 99 per 1,000 dollars of assessed value, but without it, the sheriff says 21 deputies will be slashed down to one – himself; he will be on call 24/7.

The juvenile department is also closing its doors and renting out beds from the Jackson County Jail. He says there will only be five deputy district attorneys prosecuting cases and jail beds downsized from 120 to 30.

“I am very concerned about the safety of the officer – myself – and the public. There is just not going to be enough of us to respond adequately,” Sheriff Gilbertson states.

The sheriff says Grants Pass Public Safety will try and assist the sheriff during calls. So will state police, but he says the trooper is not on call 24/7, which means the sheriff may not have back up. For 70 sheriff’s deputies and employees, pink slips will be handed out Wednesday and they will be gone by the end of this month.