Josephine County Tax Levy Fails – Protecting Public Safety Becomes a Challenge

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Josephine County, located in Oregon, has been facing a serious funding crisis when it comes to public safety. The failure of the tax levy on May 22nd, 2013, has resulted in a significant decrease in resources for law enforcement and the criminal justice system. As a result, the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office is struggling to respond to a high volume of calls for help, and the community is experiencing a surge in various crimes. In this article, we will delve into the repercussions of the failed tax levy and its impact on public safety.

Drastic Reduction in Law Enforcement Resources

Sheriff Gill Gilbertson reveals that due to the lack of funding, the number of patrol officers has been reduced to an alarming level. He explains that on any given day, they receive an average of 20 to 30 calls for assistance, but it has become impossible for the Sheriff’s Office to respond to all of them. This has led to a delay in patrolling, with some residents not seeing a patrol officer for days.

The failed measure 1749 would have implemented a law enforcement levy, which would have added $1.48 per thousand dollars assessed value to property taxes in Josephine County. Ultimately, this would have generated $9.1 million in revenue for the criminal justice department. Unfortunately, without this additional funding, the Sheriff’s Office is left with just one patrol deputy, two court security personnel, and a mere hundred jail beds.

Severe Safety Concerns

With such limited resources, the safety of Josephine County residents is at risk. Sheriff Gilbertson emphasizes the dire situation by stating that if they fall below the required number of personnel, it will greatly compromise public safety. The Sheriff’s Office, which relies heavily on its jail to house offenders, now only has two individuals assigned to running the jail. Gilbertson reveals a need for at least 21 people to operate the jail effectively.

Budget Committee Meeting & Funding Gap

During a budget committee meeting, the Sheriff’s Department made a request for $649,000 to cover the funding gap and maintain the current level of operations. However, County Commissioner Keith Heck expressed little optimism about the availability of funds. He acknowledged the constitutional requirement to fund the sheriff’s office but pointed out that the county is not obligated to operate a jail, leaving that decision at the county’s discretion.

Rise in Crime Rates

The lack of resources has had a significant impact on the crime rates in Josephine County. Sheriff Gilbertson states that they have witnessed a staggering 73% increase in thefts and a 58% increase in burglaries. This surge in crime is unprecedented in the community, and it is clear that the current situation needs urgent attention to protect the public.

Moving Forward

As the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office faces these challenges, they are determined to find ways to make do with the limited resources they have. However, the consequences of the failed tax levy are severe, and the community must seriously consider the potential closure of the jail due to the lack of funding.

Josephine County’s struggle to fund its law enforcement and criminal justice system is a stark reminder of the importance of adequately financing public safety. The safety and well-being of the community should be a top priority for any local government.

In conclusion, the failure of the Josephine County tax levy has had devastating effects on public safety. With reduced law enforcement resources, the safety of residents is at risk, and crime rates are soaring. It is crucial that the community and county officials come together to find a solution and prioritize the funding needed to protect the community effectively. Only through adequate funding can Josephine County ensure the safety and security of its residents.

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