GRANTS PASS, Ore. — For the second time, a tax measure to restore public safety in Josephine County failed to win voter approval. The unofficial results show 49 percent voted yes and 51 percent voted no. Around 400 votes separate the two sides as of 9:50 p.m.
Measure 17-49 proposed a property tax of $1.48 per $1,000 assessed value for three years. Sheriff Gil Gilbertson says with the failed tax levy, county residents should expect another round of cuts.
“We’re probably looking at going back to 60 beds for the jail. I’m looking at only one patrol officer for this entire county. Frankly, I’m reluctant to put one person out there by themselves,” said Gilbertson.
The group Securing Our Safety has supported the measure. Group members are expecting more crime, and in turn, more victims. Residents against the tax measure say they were never against law enforcement.
“The problem is still here,” said Jim Rafferty. “We’re not opposed to and have never been opposed to public safety. It’s just that we were opposed to how it was going to be funded and the promises were it was going to be funded a certain way. It was supposed to go where it was supposed to go.”
They say the responsibility falls on the county commissioners to restore public safety.
“We have to roll up our sleeves, the commissioners are going to have to take a role, cut back on salaries in my opinion, look at the county charter like I said before and do what needs to be done,” said Rafferty.
On the other hand, Sheriff Gilbertson says other ideas besides the tax measure to help restore public safety have been tested out.
“We’re looking for ideas. We’re asking people who have ideas to come forward. Most ideas have been beaten year after year after year,” explained Gilbertson.
The unofficial results for the law enforcement levy was closer this year. Last year, NewsWatch 12 reported that 57 percent voted against a similar tax measure.
Click here for a link to Josephine County’s election results page.