'Our worst case scenario is we shut the sheriff's office down'

'Our worst case scenario is we shut the sheriff's office down'

GOLD BEACH, Ore. - Curry County voters defeated a tax proposal to fund law enforcement.

"At the end of this fiscal year, which is June 30 of 2014, we're out of money," said Curry County Sheriff John Bishop. "Our worst case scenario is we shut the sheriff's office down: no civils, no court security, no jail, no patrol, nothing."

The county will try again in May. If the measure fails again, County Commissioner David Smith said the county will work with the governor to file a state of emergency in what would be the first test of a new Oregon law. New legislation allows counties to impose emergency taxes if public safety is threatened.

The squeeze comes from the end of direct payments to counties from the federal treasury meant to compensate for lost timber revenues.

"Now we have to look at different issues," Bishop said. "Do we cut jail staffing, do we cut patrol safety - we have to cut somewhere."

The sheriff's office is already short staff.

"There's a lot of time there's one deputy on for the whole county," the sheriff said, "and then there's times there's no deputies on, and that's now."

Curry County voters did show support for a measure to replace Curry General Hospital.

"When it came clear that we're not voting just for a new hospital and something nice to work in but a continuation of health care here, I think that made it pretty easy for most people to vote," said Andrew Bair, the hospital's CEO.

The bond will give Curry General access to $20 million to replace their hospital, "n amount that we think is reasonable to be able to build a modern facility that will provide health care here through the next several decades," Bair said.

Not all voters in Oregon got ballots for the special election Tuesday. With county wide measures, Curry County voters turned out, with 61 percent of registered voters casting ballots.