UPDATE: The Jacksonville City Council has approved a surcharge on residents' utility bills in order to create a police protection fund. The surcharge came up at a City Council meeting on Tuesday evening, and will go into effect on July 1.
While the surcharge was approved, the Council will continue to work on certain aspects of the plan—namely, that residents who make under a certain amount per year will not have to pay the surcharge. A previous income proposal was $28,000 per-year, but that ceiling may go up.
Meanwhile, a citizen-led initiative submitted to the City aims to replace the flat surcharge for residents by instead adopting a five percent food and beverage tax. If the initiative does receive enough support, it would appear on Jacksonville ballots in November.
(Updated as of 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 15)
JACKSONVILLE, Ore. — Longtime Jacksonville Resident Kimberly Clark says, "Yeah, it's going to cost us money but we need to pay it in order to be safe."
The city needs money for its police force and they’ll looking to generate 400,000 dollars of revenue every year with the police protection fund surcharge.
They say by charging residents 20 dollars a month, those revenues will go directly to a police protection fund.
The city says it already has a similar surcharge for their fire department, at 35 dollars a month.
Jacksonville Police also has an elder watch program where they will personally check up on some senior citizens, another reason many are in support of paying for their services.
Supporter of Surcharge Leanne Schimph says, "They have now for the last four years come out to my dad’s house every Friday and they call once a week. So, he gets two visits to know he's okay because I live in New Mexico. He would not mind I believe, I would not mind paying the surcharge."
Currently the city funds its police force using the general fund, which is mainly with property tax revenues.
Jacksonville has a low permanent tax rate for its citizens which is why their general fund is being stretched thin.
If the ordinance passes, the city says it will have more funds available in the general fund.
Currently the city spends more than 600,000 dollars annually for police services.
City council voted 6 to 1 on the proposal on April 17th.
Tuesday at 6pm, they will vote on whether or not to adopt the ordinance.
For a link to the City Council Agenda Packet, click here.