County leaders joined residents in the walk from the juvenile justice center to the jail. For voters who wanted to hear both sides of the measure, a town hall meeting was held after the demonstration at the Grange.
Measure 17-49 is proposing $1.48 per thousand dollars assessed value for three years. Voters will decide on the tax levy this May. Several residents questioned the wording of the measure. They were concerned that all of the money would not go toward public safety but part of the general fund. But city councilman, Mark Gatlin, says it’s stated word for word in the measure.
“It has to go for those items. If it does not, that’s a misappropriation of funds. You can prosecute those that misappropriate those,” said Gatlin.
Several audience members were also concerned that the county commissioners salaries were too high and believed commissioners were misappropriating county dollars.
Members of the National Constitutional Sheriff’s Association who attended the meeting, said the answer isn’t a property tax. One representative said county commissioners can file a resolution to take back forest land. A route Apache County took with the U.S. Forest Service.
“They take back the management of the forest within their boundaries. They put work out to the public sector. The county does not do the work except when absolutely necessary,” said NCSA Rey Kapitka.
Sheriff Gil Gilberton said he presented the idea to county commissioners months ago but they did not move forward with it.