Voters in Curry County are considering a Public Safety Levy on the November 5th ballot which would help pay for rural sheriff patrols and the jail. There hasn't been much public effort to get out the vote.
The levy would raise property taxes to one dollar and 35 cents per one thousand dollar assessed value for homeowners in the southwestern Oregon County. Susan Brown is a Curry County Commissioner. She says the current tax base brings in about $1.4 million annually. But the county budget is $5.2 million. The levy would raise about $3 million to fund the Sheriff, District Attorney and Justice Department. Brown says it's not easy to convince voters to pay more.
Brown: "People are living paycheck to paycheck. I think everybody understands the need for the services. It's a matter of economy. We don't recover as fast as the rest of the state. We're still relatively high unemployment. We're struggling."
Brown says she wishes there had been more public outreach to get input on the measure and to educate residents about what the levy would do.
Brown: "So I think we have to be mindful of our citizens working for their money, how they want it spent. What services are important to them. How can we meet their needs? And come up with a solution together. I think that's the way you get citizens on board."
The Oregon legislature has passed a law that allows the Governor to declare a state of emergency in counties that cannot afford to fund basic services. Brown says she doesn't think the funding crisis in Curry County rises to that level.