Oregon’s special election concludes next week, and in Curry County on the south coast, voters will decide on a tax increase. The county is facing a $2 million budget shortfall, and it could be the first place Governor Kitzhaber declares a public safety fiscal emergency.
In Curry County, residents pay the second-lowest local property tax rate in the state.
Commissioner David Brock Smith says the ballot measure would increase the tax rate by about 60 cents per thousand dollars of property value to maintain funding for the jail and the sheriff’s six deputies.
“As far as I’m concerned closing the jail is not an option. Having no patrol deputies is not an option. We must keep some level of civility within the counties in Oregon" says Smith.
Opponents of the tax increase say the county could take money from a $30 million road reserve fund to pay for public safety.
If Curry County cannot find funding for the sheriff and the jail, Governor Kitzhaber could declare an emergency there.
Copyright 2013 Oregon Public Broadcasting.