Public Safety Options Weighed In

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GRANTS PASS, Ore. – A citizen-proposed plan to put a public safety tax district for Josephine County on a may ballot took a step ahead. County commissioners voted to hold a public hearing next month to air citizen concerns and ideas for increased and stable law enforcement funding.

It was a near-full house for Josephine County Commissioners to discuss whether to start public talks on how to fund public safety. Most of those opposed are worried about the possible permanence of a tax district.

“I do vote for levies, because the levies are usually 2 or 3, or 4 years and then they’re sun-setted. A taxing district is permanent and increases 3% a year,” said Bill Wagner, a tax district opponent.

“Having gone without significant service for 7 months or so, the citizenry should be able to weigh in on that and say, ‘what pieces might we want back?’” remarked Jim Goodwin, who supports the public hearing.

“The ultimate decision is gonna be the citizen’s decision,” said Josephine County Sheriff Gil Gilbertson. “The job of funding the sheriff’s office and the other offices does fall on the commissioners, and I ask that you continue to look for ideas and solutions, and present that to the public.”

“They’re not against public safety not at all. We absolutely agree that there’s a need for public safety,” SOS Spokesman, Pat Fahey. “The means of which we get there we may disagree on, but I appreciate their position that there’s a problem out there and we need a solution.”

County commissioners all agreed that a public hearing should be held to see what the public thinks about a public safety district. Whether it could make the May ballot remains to be seen. So the unanimous vote by county commissioners does not put anything on the ballot, but it shifts the focus over to the new board next month, where the first public hearing will be held. The first public hearing on a possible public safety tax district will be held January 18th with two new members of the board of county commissioners.