Southern Oregon Counties Prepare for Deeper Cuts After Safety Levies Fail

May 23, 2013

Voters in two Southwest Oregon counties have defeated short-term property tax increases that would have raised revenue for public safety. Amelia Templeton reports.

Josephine and Curry county have the lowest permanent property tax rates in the state.

In Josephine county, a three year safety levy was defeated by about 500 votes.

Josephine County Sheriff Gil Gilbertson cut 80 percent of his staff last year. Now, Gilbertson says he’s facing an immediate 650 thousand dollar shortfall. If the county can’t find the money, he will lay off four employees and release more inmates from the jail.

In Curry County, a five year safety levy lost by about 800 votes. Commissioner David Brock Smith says the county will make cuts when it draws up its new budget in June.

Smith: “There really isn’t anywhere to cut out of budgets any more, now it’s what departments stay and what departments go.”

Smith says Curry County may attempt to pass another property tax increase in a special election in September.

Copyright 2013 Northwest Public Radio