VOTERS TO DECIDE LAW LEVY

March 10, 2001 12:00 am

GOLD BEACH ? Sheriff Kent Owens? $2.6 million law levy has been approved for the May 15 ballot by the Curry County Commissioners.

What the commissioners couldn?t decide on Monday, however, is who will pay for the $10,000 election.

The money will initially be borrowed from the reserve fund of the Curry County Road Department. It can be repaid during the 2001-02 fiscal year.

Commissioner Lucie La Bont said, ?It should come out of the sheriff?s budget one way or the other.?

La Bont said with the budget shortfall, the $10,000 would otherwise have to come out of the budgets of other departments.

Commissioner Marlyn Schafer said, ?We?re going forward as a county. It?s good for the county as a whole.?

She also suggested having the county clerk budget for one extra election each year. Sheriff?s Office Capt. Mark Metcalf said he didn?t know if the cost of the election could legally be put in the levy.

He thought it would have to be paid for through an independent funding source. He said if the commissioners instruct the sheriff to put the election in his 2001-02 budget, he will.

Metcalf said, ?The sheriff said we can?t let a $10,000 election stand in the way of a critical public safety need.?

Metcalf said if the county can?t even afford an election to help solve its budget problems, there is no real hope of recovery.

Citizen Henry Lustig reminded the commissioners that no matter what they do, ?the $10,000 comes out of our pockets.?

The levy would raise property taxes by 32 cents per $1,000 of property value for five years.

The $2,605,527 raised would be used to hire six additional patrol deputies, one sergeant, one detective, and equip them.

Owens has stated he will use the levy to provide 24-hour-a-day patrol coverage in all parts of the county. The levy cannot pass unless the election has a voter turnout of at least 50 percent.