Timber Debate In Josephine County

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GRANTS PASS, Ore. — Federal funding is coming to Josephine County, but it means a large number of agencies are asking for parts of a small amount of money. Multiple agencies saw massive cutbacks and layoffs this year. Now, county leaders have to decide how best to fund those departments while keeping the entire county afloat with the $4.6 million of a federal timber payments extension.

County commissioners are currently taking proposals from those agencies on how to allocate the money. Commissioner Don Reedy says much of that should go to the county reserves to avoid more layoffs next year. The remaining funds would probably go to public safety.

The commissioners have heard ideas including re-hiring deputy district attorneys and probation officers, and opening more beds in the county jail. Commissioner Reedy says that could make a big impact on the ability to prosecute crimes.

Reedy says he plans on meeting with Sheriff Gil Gilbertson and District Attorney Stephen Campbell this week to finalize their proposals. He says the commissioners hope to make a final decision by the end of August.

The Commissioners will also be accepting ideas from the public on how best to use the federal funding. Proposals are due by Friday to the commissioners’ office.