What’s harder to imagine than voting to raise our property taxes in Curry County? How about calling 911 and having no one answer? How about being the victim of a crime, and having no one to prosecute the accused? How about being the parents of a teenager in trouble, and having no one available to help? Or the only person on duty when trouble breaks out some night at the county jail?
If voters are not swayed by those issues of basic safety, here’s the the flip side of the “cost” question for them to consider: What will property values be like in a county that has to virtually shut down its sheriff’s office, district attorney’s office and juvenile justice system? Or declare bankruptcy altogether?
Rich in federal forest lands, Curry County once enjoyed timber harvest proceeds that kept the cost of public services off our property tax bills. Those funds are gone, and the federal government has tried to wean us from that once bountiful benefit through ever-dwindling support.
Nor are there any other immediate sources of funds to solve the problem. There are no grants for on-going services. If there is yet another extension of federal funds, the measure clearly requires that the law enforcement levy be reduced.
There is also some common sense to be considered. In Brookings, we pay more in property taxes for the library than we do for catching, prosecuting and jailing criminals.
In the past, it has been great for homeowners to have the lowest property tax rates in the state. But in the future, it would be a disaster for those same homeowners to own property in a county where there is little or no basic public safety service.
Yes, voting for the levy will increase our property taxes. Yes, it will be worthwhile — both to protect our safety and the value of property in our community.