May 30, 2015
Oregon House Revenue Committee Members
CC: Oregon State Representatives and Senators
Re: HJR 21 and Public Safety Fiscal Emergency in Josephine County
Dear State Representatives,
The Board of Directors of Securing Our Safety has approved this letter regarding HJR 21. By now, you are all aware of the fiscal crisis that exists in Josephine County, Curry County, and to a lesser extent other counties in Oregon. In short, this crisis has been brought about by the gradual dissolution of the O&C agreement and its successor, the Secure Rural Schools Act, followed by the repeated failure of local attempts to increase property taxes to compensate. We need not review the history here, but for representatives and senators that are from the Metro and other areas of Oregon, what the rural O&C Counties have experienced in recent years would be the equivalent of the Federal Government saying Nike and Intel can no longer operate in Oregon.
It’s the results that are important: the drastic reduction in funding for vital public services, particularly public safety and criminal justice, in these O&C counties. The impact has been a dramatic increase in the negative impacts of crime, along with an equally dramatic reduction in the ability of the County public safety services to respond in a timely or effective way. Even in cities like Grants Pass, which have continued to fund their separate public safety services through city-level property tax levies, the results have been felt, since jail capacity and district attorney staffing have been cut significantly, our award winning County Juvenile Justice Shelter and Detention building has been closed, leaving offenders and at-risk youth back on the streets within days or hours. Outside the City limits of Grants Pass, Josephine County currently has less law enforcement than third world countries and this is unacceptable.
Securing Our Safety (SOS) is a non-profit that formed in Josephine County in 2012. Our goal is to help our County identify solutions that will enable our community to provide and fund the services that are required for a “secure, stable, and sustainable Josephine County.” We are composed of a diverse cross-section of community members, from public officials to business leaders, retired law enforcement officers to educators and parents, physicians and students and shopkeepers, concerned parents, and more. Continue reading SOS Board Comments on HJR 21 – The “$2 Bill”