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Voters Defeat Josephine County Levy

Voters in Southern Oregon’s Josephine County have defeated a proposed law enforcement levy. The County Sheriff’s department expects to make deep cuts in patrol services.

Josephine County is one of a handful facing serious fiscal problems because of a gap in compensatory timber payments from the federal government.

Faced with the loss of about $11 million dollars in federal money, Josephine County officials hoped the levy would spare the Sheriff’s department from cuts that will affect the entire region.

Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Erin Maue says the levy’s failure will mean substantial cuts this summer.

“We’re essentially losing patrol services. Currently we have 24-and-a-half deputies. For the next fiscal year, we’re basically only going to have Sheriff Gilbertson out there, and three contract deputies.”

Those deputies, Maue says, are paid by the city of Cave Junction, the state Marine Board and BLM. Their responsibilities will be concentrated on the river and in the woods.

The population of Josephine County is about 82,000 people. Maue says 55,000 of those people live outside city limits. The sheriff’s department is their first responder.

Commissioners have no immediate plans to try for another levy.

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