Port mulls tax hike to pay for patrols

November 16, 2013 07:14 am

Port of Brookings Harbor commissioners on Tuesday will discuss the idea of asking voters to approve a property tax hike to fund a full time police force not only for the port itself but for the entire port district.

Officials with the port district, which covers the southern half of Curry County, would contract with either the Brookings Police Department or the Curry County Sheriff’s Office for law enforcement. To pay for the service, property taxes within the district would need to be increased, most likely by at least 60 or 80 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, according to Port Commissioner Jim Relaford.

“We were waiting to see what happened with the county public safety levy,” Relaford said. “It failed, so now we have to think about what’s best for the port district and its residents.”

He said that with the failure of the county tax levy, sufficient levels of law enforcement can’t be guaranteed in either the port or the port district, which stretches from Pistol River south to the California border. 

“We’d like to get the discussion started about having law enforcement for the port property itself and also for the port district in its entirety,” Relaford said. 

Ports in Oregon have the ability to establish police forces. The Port of Portland, for example, has its own uniformed officers. 

Relaford emphasized that, if they contracted with the city for law enforcement services, it would not be a ploy for the city to annex Harbor. 

“An awful lot of people are suspicious because they think it means annexation,” Relaford said. “(Contracting with the city of Brookings) has nothing to do with annexation, it’s about providing services.”

Over the summer, port commissioners looked at contracting with the city to provide police services for just port property, which would have cost the port $66,000 a year. The cost of policing the entire port district is unknown at this time. 

Relaford said a subcommittee will be formed to investigate policing and hopes a proposal will be completed by January, so that a ballot measure could be submitted in time to be voted on in May. 

Relaford encouraged residents to attend the Port of Brookings Harbor commissioners meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 19, at the Best Western Beachfront Inn, 16008 Boat Basin Road in Harbor.