By Investigative Reporter
June 18, 2015
Josephine County, Oregon —In the May 19, 2015 Special Election, voters stopped the money drill before it could reach pay dirt. This was the sixth property tax to come up dry in the past ten years in Josephine County (JoCo). Now the group, Secure Our Safety (SOS), is attempting to take the decision to tax or not to tax our homes away from county residents. The measure promoted by SOS is called HJR-21, and is being processed in the Oregon Legislature at this time. If approved by a state wide vote, it changes the Oregon Constitution and places a minimum $2.00 per $1,000 tax base on homes and land within each of the 36 Oregon counties. Many counties already pay the minimum $2.00 tax, or more. The point being that 35 other Oregon counties would be able to compel JoCo residents under state law to pay a minimum $2.00 property tax, in addition to their existing property taxes. Take note of what SOS is doing on behalf of the county bureaucracy, and its utter contempt of the May 19 vote that defeated an odious property tax.
Public Safety Lost $500,000
In SOS's letter to the House Revenue Committee, its heading reads: "HJR-21 and Public Safety Fiscal Emergency in Josephine County"; a rather melodramatic statement here. County voters have certainly made clear their position that the property tax is the wrong way to fund public safety. It is also questionable if a fiscal public safety emergency exists as described by SOS. County commissioners' actions regarding the alleged public safety fiscal emergency indicate they do not believe there is a fiscal emergency. Here's why. A majority of the county commissioners, in conjunction with the county budget committee, voted not to move $500,000 to public safety from county road department funds. This could have been done legally. These funds could have been transferred without a serious problem to the road department, and would show the public that the commissioners had real concerns about public safety. This may be considered a breach of trust. County commissioners taking turns, clearly waved the safety lantern from a courthouse window, indicating that all is well. Thus signaling that there is no public safety fiscal emergency, as declared by SOS.
Agenda for Commissioners
Here are three things your county commissioners should be doing for the residents of this county, and are not at this time. For county commissioners to pursue any other course could be considered dereliction of duty.
1. Rather than going after a dirty property tax, the county commissioners should be lobbying state officials and the legislature to be able to use dedicated funds for public safety.
2. The commissioners need to acknowledge that public employees have priced themselves out of the job market through the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS), then act on this fact by reducing the number of public employees in Josephine County government.
3. The county commissioners need to acknowledge that public employee unions are a major political problem in this county, and work to decertify the county public employee unions. At the very least, these three issues need to be brought up for public discussion, rather than being ignored. However, the commissions appear to be scared spineless of the public employee unions.
Here is an example of dedicated funds in reference to the above point 1: "A resolution for an economic development $50,000 grant for Rogue Coffee Roasters expansion was approved on a 2 to 0 vote, with Commissioner Hare abstaining. KAJO Radio, 6-3-15." This is money sent to Josephine County from state lottery funds. The county commissioners had two choices in distributing this money, to give the grant to Rogue Coffee Roasters, or loan the money to them. Commissioner's Walker and Heck chose to give the money rather than loan it to Rogue Coffee Roasters. Finance Director Arthur O'Hare testified before commissioner that a loan would create more administrative work for his department. State rules need to allow lottery dollars to be used for public safety, rather than going to a private business. This is part of the reason Josephine County has a poorly funded sheriff's department, not that the county voters turned down a dirty property tax. It's all about corrupt politics, bureaucrats, and agenda driven elected officials.
This is how state and federal agencies are able to manipulate counties into carrying out their political agendas. There are a lot of dedicated funds that should be allowed to pay for public safety. Commissioners must step up to the plate and make a home run for county residents, by having the rules of the game changed for dedicated funding. Are the commissioners up to the job they were elected to do? If not, don't reelect them to office, and hold them individually accountable for their decisions.
County Employees vs. The Voters
Keep in mind that SOS is stuffed with Josephine County department heads, such as the sheriff, district attorney and county commissioners all seeing that their best interests are served. As I see these people, they are self-serving rather than public-serving. With them it's all about salary, benefits, retirement, authority and fulfilling a self-serving agenda. This is why they are promoting HJR-21, the $2.00 base county tax on all homes and land in Josephine County.
If the May property tax had passed, a portion of those funds would have gone to pay for the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) expenses. Refer to points 2 and 3 above. All public employees have a definite conflict of interest with the pubic they are supposed to serve. "What's good for public employees financially is not good for the public, and what's good for the public is not good for public employees," This is why the size of county government needs to be reduced at every opportunity.
In conclusion, here are a few facts to think about. It is of little or no concern to those promoting the property tax HJR-21 that 30% of Josephine County residents are on food stamps. That 20% of the children live below the poverty level. That nationally 30% of the people have no retirement investments or savings, and in JoCo this number would be higher. Josephine County is reported as one of the five most food insecure counties in Oregon. JoCo Food Assessment, Jill Tucker.
Pastors Wanna Lien on Your Home
Even some of the prominent churches and pastors in Grants Pass supported the May property tax on family homes. There is nothing Christian about a property tax, as it steals from the most vulnerable groups in society. This includes the sick, hungry, children, elderly, unemployed, low income families and retired. Ask Pastor Mark Goens, Rev. Jim Brumbach and Pastor Dennis Webber why they want to put a lien and tax on your home. These church pastors take a tax exemption on their churches, and get a free ride.
Pastors Spread Dissension
Grants Pass pastors must realize that a property tax is divisive, and pits neighbor against neighbor. It does not promote love, establish trust or engender community spirit and good will. HJR-21 will be counterproductive if passed, as it will create division, conflict and an animosity within Josephine County. This is an unethical and immoral means to achieve SOS's goals. A property tax is considered a form of theft, coercion and intimidation, supported by pastors, Grants Pass businesses, unions, Sheriff Dave Daniel, District attorney Ryan Mulkins, and public employees.
If you're looking for help in keeping the wolves away from your door you won't find them in this pack, because they are the wolves.
[Dear Jo-Co Readers. If you like what you read, please foreward this article to others from this county and encourage them to sign up for Jo-Co E-mail alerts. Only an enlightened person can make a difference. God bless and thank you.]
© 2015 John Taft - All Rights Reserved
1 - Why Josephine County is Broke
2 - Elections, Consequences, Public Sector Unions and the Daily Couruer
3 - City of Grants Pass, Pastor Dennis Webber and Corruption, 5-7-2012
4 - Can Pastor Dennis Webber Serve two Masters, 8-14-12
5 - Commissioners Heck and Walker Ignore Voters, Conduct Illegal Meeting, 6-5-15
6 - Why the Levy Keeps Failing, 5-21-15
7 - Proponents of $50 Million Tax Levy Have Withheld True Cost From Voters, 3-18-15
John Taft former president of Josephine County, OR. Taxpayers Association is presently an investigative reporter for the US-Observer and NewsWithViews.com. He has had many years of broadcasting, news writing and reporting experience. He also has written a popular conservative newsletter for a taxpayers organization to inform the public on taxing issues.