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1)  What’s the problem?

ANSWER:  Josephine County has lost most of the Federal/Timber funding that used to support Law Enforcement, Rural Response, and Criminal Justice program costs.  The temporary levy to fund the county justice system and replace these revenues (sheriff’s office, county jail, District attorneys, juvenile center) was voted down in May of 2012.  Without that funding, much of the county justice system is now shut down or extremely limited.  Nearly two thirds of the Sheriff’s office staff were laid off.  Many crimes are not even prosecuted right now as a result and only a small part of the adult jail is being used.  The juvenile justice center is shut down and only a few juvenile beds are rented from Jackson county.  There are only a few deputies patrolling the rural parts of the county and divisions such as detectives that served the rural county are also shut down.  Many people and crimes are not getting the service they deserve and the City of Grants Pass and entire County are starting to see more crimes and more repeat offenders.

2)  How much do we need to fund the County Justice System?

ANSWER:  Estimates used in recent votes call for approximately $12 million per year to maintain roughly the same level of services we had prior to the failed levy (functioning jail, District Attorney, juvenile justice, county sheriff).  This is about the amount needed in addition to the much smaller amounts of federal funding that the County is temporarily receiving through an extension of Secure Rural Schools.  If this were funded entirely through a permanent property tax, the rate would be about $1.99 across the entire county (Rate is per $1000 assessed value).   However, SOS Teams are working hard to find solutions to supplement local taxes and collecting input on the level of services residents desire throughout Josephine County.  We hope the eventual cost to restore services will be even less, because the costs of going without these services are even more severe than funding the services locally.  So far the citizens have told us we need to be creative to find a wide variety of funding solutions and also some local funding needs to be a big part of the ultimate series of solutions if we want to restore services in a timely manner (and not go a few more years of having less law enforcement in the rural part of the County than third world countries).
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3)  How are the County’s existing property taxes spent?

ANSWER: While the average County property tax rate across Oregon is significantly higher than $2 per $1000 of a property’s assessed value, Josephine County’s permanent rate to support operations is a mere 58 cents.  Now that the County’s budget is adopted for the new fiscal year that began July 1st, 2014, a link to a chart of the breakdown of how the 58 cents is spent is below (click on the chart below).  Many folks have been concerned that Public Safety departments were the departments that were most affected after the recent failure of the property tax levy vote.  As you can see, after funding required services almost all tax dollars go to Public Safety so there is little else to cut when the tax dollars are not available.

JoCo prop tax budget allocation 2014-2015

SOURCE: Josephine County
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4)  How much does it cost to lodge an inmate per day at the Josephine County Jail?

ANSWER:  $119.14 per day.

To determine the actual cost of a bed, we used an old budget of total expense (minus generated revenue), which came to $6,088,040. Based upon 140 beds divided by 365 days we come up with a total of $119.14 per bed/per day.  Costs can vary as we get discounts on certain expenses based upon the number of beds we use (i.e., costs per meal are reduced as we increase the numbers of inmates).  Rental beds can fluctuate depending upon the additional service terms of the agreement, such as, medical, mental, transport, extra security, etc. Lane County for example charges $117.57 per day/per bed plus a charge of $38.00 per hour transportation/guard fee for inmates taken to hospital/doctor.
[SOS editorial – budgets are not typically fully spent so the actual cost per day is slightly lower.  Also, if we restored some more funding to the jail at the proper level economies of scale may kick in to lower the cost per bed.  The real number is probably closer to $100 per day, similar to contracts the County has entered into for use of the jail with other agencies.]

SOURCE:  Former Josephine County Sheriff Gil Gilbertson

5)  How much does it cost for a new Deputy District Attorney (Salary/Benefits) at the Josephine County District Attorney’s Office for one year?

ANSWER:  A beginning Felony Level Prosecuting Attorney in the Josephine County District Attorney’s Office costs approximately $106,000 (Salary/Benefits).

SOURCE:  Josephine County District Attorney’s Office
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6)  How much in discretionary funding does the County have available for Criminal Justice Services?

ANSWER:  Budget graphs showing discretionary dollars are below:

SOURCE:  Josephine County Finance Office
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7)  How many police officers does the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety (GPDPS) have?

ANSWER:  The adopted budget for Fiscal 2013 for the City of Grants Pass Public Safety (Field and Support Divisions) shows 2 Deputy Chiefs, 1 Lieutenant, 5 Sergeants, 5 Corporals, and 36 Police Officers.  GPDPS operates Police and Fire services 24 / 7.  Those positions provide police patrol, detectives and detectives assigned to an interagency narcotics task force, as well as an interagency cyber crime task force combating internet crimes against children.

SOURCE:  City of Grants Pass adopted budget book/City Website/former Public Safety Director Joe Henner

8)  Who pays for the GPDPS and How is the GPDPS paid for? Is the GPDPS paid for through the county tax?

ANSWER:  Approximately 85% of the current fiscal year GPDPS budget is paid by property taxes on City of Grants Pass properties only.  The rest comes from City Public Safety dedicated or restricted revenue sources along with approximately 5% of the GPDPS budget coming from discretionary City General Fund revenues.  The City relies on County services such as the Jail and the District Attorney, but the City of Grants Pass does not receive any County tax revenue.  However, City residents pay the same County tax rate as County residents because we all share in the services provided by the County.  City property tax dollars only support services inside the City because it is only City residents paying for those services.  County property tax rates only pay for services provided by the County.

SOURCE:  City of Grants Pass adopted budget book and City Website
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9)  So if I am a Grants Pass City Resident, how much extra do I pay for law enforcement than my County brothers and sisters?

ANSWER:  This is difficult to answer precisely because Grants Pass has a consolidated Public Safety Department that handles Police, Fire, and operates the 911 Agency and takes all 911 calls in the County under contract.  Police and Fire share a management team and share facilities.  Separating only law enforcement in this consolidated structure is difficult.  Also keep in mind that in Josephine County outside of the City of Grants Pass, residents must pay a separate fee for Fire protection.  The tax rate in the City will be higher, but the level of service is also significantly higher as GPDPS operates Police, Fire, and 911 call taking services 24 / 7.

SOURCE:  City of Grants Pass adopted budget book and City Website

10)  Why are County taxpayers the only ones paying for the criminal justice system? Don’t criminals in the City get put in jail too?

ANSWER:  Actually, everyone in the County, both in and out of the cities pay the same rate for County services. County taxes are based on a permanent rate of $.5867 per thousand of assessed value. A property owner assessed at $150,000 will pay $88 in County taxes to the general fund regardless of whether or not they are located in a city or a rural area.

SOURCE:  Josephine County
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11)  Explain in more detail the current property tax system, why there is a problem, and how much would a solution to this crisis cost?

ANSWER:  The County’s permanent tax rate is approximately 58 cents per $1000 of a property’s assessed value and everyone in the Cities and County pays this rate.  Of the 58 cents, in the current year approximately 32 to 33 cents goes to Law Enforcement/Criminal Justice Services.  Josephine County has the lowest tax rate in the whole state because previously timber funds used to provide the rest of the resources necessary to operate the Criminal Justice Services.  The decline of Timber and Federal Funding is why SOS is working hard on alternatives!

In the City of Grants Pass, in addition to the County’s tax rate City residents pay more than $6.00 per $1000 in assessed value, all of which goes to Public Safety services (mostly Police and Fire services).  While the City has a consolidated management and facilities structure for Police and Fire, slightly more than $4 of the rate would be the estimated cost for Law Enforcement while close to approximately $2 would be the cost for Fire services.

The services the City provides are for the most part different than the services the County provides.  The County operates the Jail, Juvenile Justice, provides District Attorney services, and has Rural Patrol.  The City of Grants Pass has Police, Fire, and also operates a consolidated 911/Dispatch center.  A number of stakeholders have suggested the City and County should combine forces, but the services provided are very different.  And as of now, County residents pay 32 cents while City residents pay more than $4.32 for Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Services.  City residents have long voted for specific level of Police and Fire Services and pay for them by property taxes, so any sort of combination would have to result in sharing both the taxes and the services more equally.

E:  Josephine County and the City of Grants Pass adopted budget book and City Website
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