LANE COUNTY, Ore. (KMTR) -- While Lane County Sheriff Tom Turner offers up his last planned public question-and-answer session about budget cuts on Tuesday night, he is also sharing his thoughts on the future funding picture for his office and a recent study saying voters would support a tax levy for the jail.
The Lane County Sheriff’s Office will not have property tax levy on the ballot this November, but according to one public research firm's study, there's likely enough support right now to pass a money measure this season.
Back in July, the Strategy Research Institute consulting firm finished a report commissioned by Lane County, the City of Eugene and the City of Springfield, which polled 402 Lane County residents.
The feasibility study found a 60% to 40% ratio in support of a 50-cent property tax levy to raise money for just the Lane County Jail. With the money, the jail could open more jail beds.
Currently the Lane County Jail has just 152 beds for local offenders. 96 jail beds were closed in June, due to budget cuts. According to Sheriff Turner the county should have around 1,000 jail beds to house the local population of offenders.
In its report, SRI said that Lane County should have gone for a measure on the November ballot as well.
Ultimately though, the Lane County Board of Commissioners decided against that, feeling it was too rushed with just a couple days to draft the language of a ballot measure.
Sheriff Turner says he would have loved to see a measure on the November ballot, but recognizes the time crunch.
"What I am very hopeful for is that we can look at this as seriously as we can in the near future because our needs haven't changed and our issues haven't changed,” says Sheriff Turner. “We're continuing to have difficulties with responses and providing them under this very limited resource time, so I am hopeful this is a good indicator of what the future is going to bring.”
SRI’s study also recommended that the tax levy last for five years and only charge 50 cents per every $1,000 of assessed property value at max. Currently, Lane County’s base property tax rate is one of the lowest in the state at $1.28 per every $1,000 of assessed property value.
For a $150,000 home, a 50-cent property tax that would cost the property owner an extra $75 dollars annually.
No official ballot measure has been drafted yet.
If you want to ask Sheriff Turner any question about the budget, he'll be at Springfield City Hall tonight, Tuesday, September 25, in the council meeting room from 6 to 8 PM.
Sheriff Turner says he is planning to hold more town hall meetings in the future, but none have been scheduled yet.