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Levy Would Add Jail Beds, Raise Taxes

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GRANTS PASS — Another levy is on this May’s ballot to help fund the Josephine County Jail. While the sheriff said the additional funding would greatly help his office, some are residents against it.

Just a couple of years ago, the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office had 98 full-time employees. Friday, Sheriff Gil Gilbertson looked at how to disperse the 38 full-time employees he would have if the levy fails.

“If there is no money, there is no resources, with no resources, there’s no employees, with no employee’s there’s no service,” said Sheriff Gilbertson.

Sheriff Gilbertson said his office generates two million dollars a year, while cutting costs elsewhere.

“We had three hot meals here at the jail. We went to one cold breakfast, that saved the taxpayers another $80,000 a year,” said Sheriff Gilbertson.

Measure 17-59 would charge county residents $1.19  per $1,000 of assessed value.  Some residents said they have nothing left to give.

“You can’t tax yourself into prosperity. We can not be taxing ourselves out of our homes, in some case, maybe a lot of cases, to fund something that should already be funded through the county,” said James Rafferty

The opposition flyers point out the levy doesn’t specifically say it will lead to patrols.  Sheriff Gilbertson said the levy would allow for more deputies and dispatch.

“The general fund will have some additional money, if this levy passes, so that we can augment our sorely lacking patrol,” said Sheriff Gilbertson.

Rafferty urges voters to read up on both sides before casting their ballots.

“Look at the seven arguments in favor of it and look at the three opposed to it. Make up your own mind.” said Rafferty.

No matter what the results are in May, Sheriff Gilberston said the county is in need of a long term solution.