CORVALLIS, Ore. — Benton County voters will be making a big decision on whether they want to continue to help fund critical services.
They already approved a property tax levy in 2007. Now, they are being asked to renew it. It helps fund public safety as well as the health department.
The levy helps fund the jail, allowing the county to rent out 40 beds from other counties. It also helps pay for 24-7 patrol coverage–something the county couldn’t provide before this levy passed in 2007.
“The levy also pays for two Deputy District Attorney’s and a paralegal,” said Diana Simpson, Benton County Sheriff.
It’s a 90-cent property tax levy on $1,000 assessed value. If you own a $150,000 home, you’re paying $135 a year.
“I can’t stress how critical this levy is. We have reached a point where I feel good about the services we are able to provide the residents of in Benton County and in the jail,” Simpson said.
The levy also funds a housing program for parole and probation officers, not too mention a number of services within the Benton County Health Department.
“It’s funded part of an epidemiology position who has really helped us build our health status reports for the county, which is just critical with the developing health reform,” said Mitch Anderson, Benton County Health Director.
If not passed, the health department says children’s services will suffer.
“In particular the outreach around children’s health both in terms of the schools and out in the community and families would be reduced and that means less kids and families engaged in getting service,” Anderson said.
Sheriff Simpson says there is reluctance from some in the community to renew taxes and who are looking to send a message.
“I am worried, I can’t go in saying I am 100 percent sure this levy is going to pass. I’m hoping and I am being optimistic that the voters recognize that public safety is very important to this county and they should vote for it,” Simpson said.
If passed commissioners say that if new revenue streams come in over the next five years they have no problem lowering that 90-cent tax levy.