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SHERIFF SEEKING STABLE FUNDING FOR HIS OFFICE

 

By Sheriff Gil Gilbertson
July 22, 2008

NewsWithViews.com

[Note: NWV is giving Sheriff Gilbertson an opportunity to present his taxing proposal to Josephine County, OR citizens. NWV and its contributing writers are staying neutral on this money issue.]

In 2007, I was elected by the voters of Josephine County to be their Sheriff, my first and continuing priority is seeking solutions to the long-term funding problems that have faced the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office for decades. While there were initially several potential solutions, the possibility of establishing two Special Service Districts, dedicated to funding the services provided by the Sheriff’s Office, quickly became the most viable.

The District model was selected for three primary reasons:

Provides long-term funding,
Provides a stable funding source, which will facilitate long-term planning by the Office, and
Provides sustainable funding, not subject to local or national political whims.

With these overarching goals guiding the process, my Office began the analysis of planning for a two District concept.

The primary difference between establishing two Service Districts and simply asking for an operating levy is that:

Under the Service District model, costs are allocated to those individuals most likely to benefit from them.
* It would be unfair to ask some residents to pay for certain services, when they already fund those services with their City tax dollars.
It provides a solution to the high rate of employee turnover.

It is important to note, however, that in order for the Sheriff’s Office to operate at optimum efficiency, the functions provided by each District need to be funded to a base level. Operating a Jail without having Rural Patrol Deputies to respond and arrest would do little to ensure peace and quality of life in rural areas. Similarly, having Rural Patrol Deputies with no facilities with which to lodge offenders creates the potential for a Deputy’s only solution to any given problem being to write a ticket.

In the final analysis, passage and operation of both Districts will help to ensure and sustain our entire quality of life here in Josephine County.

District 1 includes all residents of Josephine County, including Cave Junction and Grants Pass. This district is organized to include those services that the Sheriff’s Office is mandated to provide, and that benefit every resident equally. These services include the baseline services that must be staffed, yet will also support some of the functions provided in District 2, such as the Records Division as well as the Dispatch/Communications Division. The services provided by this district include:

Adult Jail Operations
Civil Process Service
Search & Rescue Coordination
Emergency Management
Law Enforcement Records
Dispatching/Communications
Administrative Services

All of these services are required, or inferred, under Oregon law, and most of them are specifically assigned to the Sheriff—no other law enforcement agency is statutorily required or authorized to provide these services.

The total number of potential employees working to provide the services of District 1 will be capped at 76, with the majority, 51, working to staff the Josephine County Adult Jail for full capacity. Any additional employees will be funded from other revenue sources.

District 2 includes only those residents living outside the City of Grants Pass. This district is organized to include those services that the Sheriff’s Office is mandated to provide, but primarily benefit those residents living outside Grants Pass. The services provided by this district include:

Patrol Services, including 911 response
Major Crimes Investigations
Narcotics Investigations
Business/Crime Analysis
Contract Patrol Services

Under Oregon Revised Statutes, these services are also mandated, or inferred, of the Sheriff’s Office. The law allows each County Sheriff to determine the levels of service they will provide, however, they retain the requirement to provide those services essential to maintaining the peace within the county. Under District 2, total employees funded by local revenue will be capped at 52, and as with District 1, any additional employees needed to fulfill the Office’s mission will have to be funded with other revenues.


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The primary responsibility of District 2 will be to provide Patrol services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. With stable, consistent patrol services comes the need for adequate and timely investigations, as well as crime analysis to focus efforts on identifying and addressing community-wide crime trends. Contract Deputies have been included in District 2, however these positions are fully reimbursed contracts, but due to Office safety issues, they cannot be staffed without Patrol services.

In late 2007, the Sheriff’s Office completed a survey of Josephine County citizens in order to determine what services were of most value to them. According to the results of that survey, the following are the top priorities for the residents of Josephine County:

Adequate Sheriff’s Patrols, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
A Safe and Secure Adult Jail, operated at full capacity
Decreased response times to Calls-For-Service (Priority 1, 2, and 3)
Thorough investigations of “Crimes-Against-People” and “Crimes-Against-Property”
Extend Hours of Operation for Records Division
Increased Frequency and Quality of Training throughout all Divisions
Increased Quality and Frequency of Communications from Sheriff’s Office to community
Increase use of Volunteers
Implement Changes necessary to Increase Employee Retention and Decrease Turn-over
Ensure all Employees are provided with Safe, Well Maintained Equipment

In order to meet these service level expectations, the Sheriff’s Office is under-going a Strategic Recovery Planning process. Implementation of the two Service Districts is only one aspect of rebuilding the Office’s credibility, capacity for service, and professionalism within the community.

Regardless of funding considerations, we are committed to performing a Top-to-Bottom review and revision of the Office’s operating policies and procedures. This review will work towards optimizing efficiency as well as ensure that our exposures to potential losses are minimized.

In concert with this complete operational review, we are conducting a revision of the Office’s hiring process. This will ensure that when stable, sustainable funding is obtained, only professional, capable, and ethical individuals are hired onto the Sheriff’s Office team.

Following successful passage by Josephine County voters in the November 2008 General Election, revenues will become collectable one year later. During that time, the Office will be implementing the systems and standards of operations necessary to begin the rebuilding process.

Here are the most frequent questions/comments I receive.

Q: I live on a fixed income, and can’t afford any new taxes!
A: If you are a senior, disabled war veteran/surviving spouse, active duty military, or disabled, you may qualify for exemption or deferral of your Josephine County Property Taxes. Please contact the Josephine County Assessor’s Office at (541) 474-5260 for more information and applications. Also, please remember that State and Local taxes, including property taxes, are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Q: Will these districts double my tax rate?
A: No. These districts will increase your tax rate, but if your home has a market value of $260,000, your Assessed value is likely to be $130,000. Using that Assessed Value, your annual tax impact for District 1 will be $128.70. District 2 will be $141.70. If you live outside the City of Grants Pass, then your total annual impact for both Districts will be $270.70.

Q: What happens if another Federal bailout is funded?
A: If the Federal government re-funds the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act, then either no District taxes will be collected or only enough to fund any shortfalls. These two Districts are meant to be an ‘Insurance Policy’ to ensure that the Sheriff’s Office isn’t subject to funding insecurity—and thus can maintain a professional and highly qualified staff.

Q: Why don’t the Commissioners and Sheriff find another way to pay for this?
A: Both the Sheriff and the Board of County Commissioners are committed to developing and discovering revenue sources for local government operations that do not place the majority of the burden on local property owners; still, they feel that allowing the voters to establish these two districts ensures a base level of consistent operations, regardless of other funding streams.

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This is about you, your family, your community, your safety, your future. I encourage you to get involved.

You are in control of this Sheriff’s Office. It is your responsibility to make these decisions - our responsibility is to support your decision and engage your vision.

The Sheriff’s Office welcome’s your questions and comments on this and any other topic of concern. Please contact us by phone at (541) 474-5120, or by email at jocosheriff@co.josephine.or.us

2008 Gil Gilbertson - All Rights Reserved

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Gil Gilbertson has approximately thirty-years of national and international experience as a law enforcement officer, trainer, advisor, and senior administrator, in both military and civilian police units.

A veteran of Viet Nam, he has served in the U.S. Navy, Air National Guard, Army National Guard, and the Army Reserve. From 1975 to 1991 Gil was patrol and traffic officer, member of the special weapons tactical team, bomb squad, field-training officer, recovery diver, dispatcher, and jailer for the Waterloo, Iowa Police Department.

Between 1975 and 1996, Gil also served as a professional law enforcement instructor and advisor for the Special Tactics Association and the International Law Enforcement Training Group.

Beginning in 1996, Gilbertson served as the senior liaison for the International Police Task Force at Task Force Eagle, the American contingent of troops supporting the peacekeeping mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina. This was a country suffering from anarchy and a bloody civil war. Gilbertson later took charge of an intelligence fusion center sharing information between the International Police Task Force and N.A.T.O.

In 2005, Gil spent a short tour in Iraq advising the local bomb squads, and a national highway patrol. Later Gil joined a tactical team in New Orleans to secure and defend hospitals that had come under sniper attack in the chaos immediately following hurricane Katrina.

January of 2007, Gil was elected as Sheriff of Josephine County, Oregon.

Website: Sheriff's website

E-Mail: jocosheriff@co.josephine.or.us


 

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In 2007, I was elected by the voters of Josephine County to be their Sheriff, my first and continuing priority is seeking solutions to the long-term funding problems that have faced the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office for decades.