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Josephine County Voters Say No to Public Safety Levy (Again)

Amelia Templeton/EarthFix

The third time was not the charm, as Josephine County voters once again shot down a measure to raise property taxes to pay for law enforcement.

Two years of borderline non-existent law enforcement in Josephine County was not enough to persuade voters to raise their property taxes to pay to put deputies back on the job. For the third time since 2012, a public safety levy was shot down, this time by a vote of 52 to 48 percent. Josephine County Sheriff Gil Gilbertson says the decision could lead to another jail closure.

Gil Gilbertson: “Our jail, the way it’s structured, the way it’s designed, I need a minimum staff of 21 people. If we fall below that, we’re seriously looking at reducing our jail beds to maybe 30, and/or closing the jail.”

Two years ago, failure of a levy led to dozens of inmates being turned loose from the county jail. Until the city of Grants Pass ponied up about a million dollars last year, police in the county seat had to cite and release non-violent offenders because there was no jail space available. City officials have said that funding was a one-time stop-gap that’s unlikely to be repeated.

Sheriff Gilbertson says the levy’s failure also means the county’s juvenile justice facility will remain closed and the two deputies currently on daytime patrol during the week won’t be getting reinforcements.

Liam Moriarty has been covering news in the Pacific Northwest for three decades. He served two stints as JPR News Director and retired full-time from JPR at the end of 2021. Liam now edits and curates the news on JPR's website and digital platforms.