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Public Safety on May ballot

Measure would not include a tax rate increase

EUGENE: At their February 7th meeting, the Lane Board of County Commissioners (BCC) voted unanimously to place the renewing the current public safety levy before voters during the May 16th election. Passage of the measure, officials say, would not increase the tax rate.

If approved, the measure would maintain a minimum of 255 local jail beds to hold people arrested for violent felonies or Measure 11 offenses until their cases are resolved - instead of releasing them due to lack of space.

Since the original levy took effect in 2013, no violent felony or Measure 11 arrestees have been released pre-trial due to lack of space.

Provisions of the levy renewal would maintain investments in medical and mental health services within the Lane County Jail and continue to provide counseling, secure treatment, and detention services for youth offenders. Under Youth Services, the public safety levy funds 8 of 16 youth detention beds and 8 of 15 Phoenix Treatment Program beds.

Currently, the public safety levy provides 52 percent of the operational funding for the Lane County Jail.

The estimated tax rate for the proposed levy is 55 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. The median Lane County homeowner is estimated to pay an average of $9.83 per month for five years.

Levy funds are placed in a restricted fund earmarked for the Lane County Jail and Youth Services. An annual independent financial audit of levy spending is required and presented publicly.

Prior to the passage of the original public safety levy in May of 2013, the Lane County Jail had only 125 beds for local offenders – a fraction of the recommended number for a jurisdiction the size of Lane County. The Sheriff’s Office, which operates the Lane County Jail, had to release more than 5,000 defendants and offenders from the jail in 2012-13 due to a lack of capacity.

The public safety levy was created to decrease the number of capacity-based releases for adult offenders and to increase youth treatment services for youth in detention or in residential treatment at Lane County Youth Services.


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