Measure Considered for Heritage District

Historic DistrictMEDFORD, Ore. — Jackson County Commissioners have also been asked to help put a measure on the May ballot aimed at creating a county-wide “Heritage District”.

Volunteers have been struggling to get the required signatures for a measure and are now coming to commissioners, asking them to refer a district-forming measure that would levy a five cent tax on home owners. Commissioners seem divided whether that is an appropriate use of their referral authority.

“I do have some concerns, real concerns, about us referring something that’s not a direct county function. And I’m concerned about the low number of signatures that they have attained,” said County Commissioner John Rachor.

County Counsel Rick Whitlock says the board would have to act by January to make the May ballot. He says heritage district supporters actually have up to two years to gather signatures if they are willing to postpone a vote past the May 2014 election.

The other two Jackson County ballot measures that could soon be decided by voters are a library levy and an extension office tax district. The library district would be funded by 60 cents per thousand dollars of assessed value.

The entire county will vote on the measure in May, but if a city turns it down, that one community library would be exempt from the levy and that library may be closed. There is also an on-going effort to gather signatures for a taxing district to better fund the extension office. The proposal is for a nickel per thousand maximum.

If the group gets approval from cities in Jackson County, they’ll move forward to file the petition and then it will be all about getting signatures. The group plans to gather 20,000 signatures by October 25th; the deadline is November 1st to send the issue to voters in May.