It’s been just over two weeks since Josephine county released some very serious offenders from its jail in Grants Pass. Sheriff Gil Gilbertson says crime has not noticeably increased in that short time. However, he says the public safety budget has been “decimated” and the only crimes that he and his three patrol deputies will be able to pursue are Measure 11 crimes. Curry county, another timber-dependent county, is trying to deal with its ever-dwindling resources by creating a separate health non-profit to provide for public health.
Meanwhile, the Oregon Secretary of State’s office has come out with the first-ever comprehensive review of the financial health of all 36 Oregon counties. Not surprisingly, the timber payment-dependent counties — including Josephine and Curry — ranked among the most distressed. Secretary of State Kate Brown says the report does not make specific recommendations but it does provide a kind of menu of options for counties and state governments based on how some other states have handled similar financial situations.
Do you live in one of Oregon’s most financially distressed counties? What services are you most concerned about? What kind of help are you looking for from your elected representatives?