The Hood River County Board of Commissioners is holding a work session on Monday, Jan. 13 at 3:30 p.m., to decide the rate for a public safety levy that they hope to put on the May 2020 ballot.

The commissioners have held work sessions several times over the last few weeks to try and work out details of the measure, and have settled on a rate somewhere between 73 cents per $1,000 of assessed value and 88 cents — one cent lower than the 89-cent levy rate the county tried for in May 2019.

The original version of the levy, called the Public Health and Safety Five-Year Local Option Tax, asked voters to approve a tax rate of 89 cents per $1,000 assessed value to support public health and safety services provided by Hood River County. It failed 51.43 percent to 48.57 percent — a closer margin than the county’s second revenue measure on the May 2019 ballot, the Prepared Food and Beverage Tax, which failed 59.45 percent to 40.55 percent.

The new levy focuses exclusively on funding the Hood River County Sheriff’s Office, specifically services identified as high-priorities to the public: Patrol and court security.

The Sheriff’s Office is currently funded by the county’s General Fund and, if the measure passes, the county would be able to pull some funding from Sheriff’s Office and reallocate it within the rest of the General Fund.

County staff have determined that a minimum 67-cent levy rate is necessary to deal with the current General Fund deficit; any additional cents added to that rate would be used to bring the Hood River County Sheriff’s Office up to a higher level of service.

For more information on the county’s budget situation, visit www.co.hood-river.or.us.

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