|
|
|
MailTribune.com
  • Voters strongly approve extension service district

  • The second round of preliminary results from Jackson County's Tuesday primary election showed overwhelming support for a proposed service district that would fund the Southern Oregon Research & Extension Center.
    • email print
  • The second round of preliminary results from Jackson County's Tuesday primary election showed overwhelming support for a proposed service district that would fund the Southern Oregon Research & Extension Center.
    With 42 percent of the votes counted by 10:15 p.m., there were 35,081 yes votes tallied, or 75 percent, with 11,878 voters saying "no" to the measure.
    "I'm hoping the trend continues," said Jack Duggan, campaign coordinator for Friends of Research & Extension, that campaigned in support of Measure 15-121. "I'm not particularly surprised. I think our work on getting (the message) out ... that's why we got the votes we did."
    If passed, the measure would tax up to 5 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. For a house with an assessed value of $154,210 — the average in Jackson County — that's about $7.71 a year.
    At a minimum rate of 2 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, the $321,900 raised would be used for staff, materials, travel, training and delayed maintenance, supporters have said. If the full 5 cents per $1,000 is collected, it would raise about $800,000. That would also allow it to hire a land-steward coordinator, Master Gardener coordinator, 4-H program assistant and a building and property manager, along with an office assistant.
    The service district idea originated during Jackson County's 2013 budget hearings when the county's budget committee cut $6.7 million, which included cuts to the Extension Service. All funding was later reinstated with help from the county's rainy-day reserves, lower expenses and boosts in revenue from several sources, including property taxes and state funding. However, measure proponents want to make sure funding is always secure.
    Historically, the county has provided about $204,000 in annual funds to Extension, as a majority of the agency's funds come from federal and state revenue streams. However, lack of local support means those streams dry up, and the Extension would close.
    Jackson County's Board of Commissioners would manage the funds and decide the tax rate. This is different than the Jackson County Libraries' proposed special district — also on the May 20 ballot. That district would be run by a separate 5-person board.
    Any tax increases beyond the initial set rate would need to be approved by voters.
    Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.
Reader Reaction
      • calendar