Historical societies might seek levy

Struggling historical districts in Jackson County might ask voters approve a levy in 2014 that would provide them with more than $800,000 annually.

The McKee Bridge, the Rogue Valley Genealogical Society and the Jacksonville Courthouse are some of the local attractions that would get a share of a proposed levy of a maximum 5 cent for each $1,000 in assessed valuation.

On a house with a $200,000 assessed value, the extra annual tax would be $10.

Tam Moore with the Our Heritage Political Action Committee said local cities have received letters recently describing the importance of the levy.

"The need is there, and the draft economic impact statement shows the tremendous boost to the local economy by having a bunch of local museums," Moore said.

According to data compiled by the Southern Oregon Visitors Association in 2010, 42 percent of the regions 3.4 million annual visitors cited seeing historical sites as one of their most popular activities.

Cities will get a chance to weigh in on the levy proposal. Some may even want to opt out of the heritage district, Moore said.

Once the cities make their decision, a map will be drawn up describing the boundaries of the district.

Then, supporters will try to collect signatures from 15 percent of the registered voters to qualify for the May 2014 ballot.

Voters will be asked to approve the creation of the Rogue Valley Heritage District and the levy.

Of the $843,588 collected in the first fiscal year, 2015-2016, about $200,000 would be set aside each year for a restoration and preservation fund. The account would be retained for at least two years to build up enough money for investment in a significant project.

— Damian Mann

See more tomorrow's Mail Tribune.

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