The Curry County Board of Commissioners is seeking citizens to serve on a new Citizens Revenue Task Force to explore options for addressing declining county revenues and increasing costs, especially for public safety.

Ideas recently bandied about included lodging, restaurant meals and sales taxes.

Curry County has the lowest property taxes in the state, at $0.599 per $1,000 assessed valuation, which does not generate enough money for the general fund to provide many basic services. Every time a ballot question has been put forth to increase this rate, however, voters have resoundly defeated it.

This is not the first time a citizen-based committee has been created to address the same issue, either. A Blue Ribbon Committee was created in 2010 to outline options for new revenue sources for public safety, and a study sits on a shelf with almost 20 recommendations to solve the dilemma, although few have been pursued.

The county, in the meantime, has spun off entire departments — hospice, public health and the animal shelter among them — to cut expenses and asked department heads to make major cuts in their budgets.

Tens of millions of dollars pass through the county’s budget every fiscal year, but 94 percent of that money goes to the county’s numerous special districts: fire, libraries, cemetery boards, school districts and others.

Commissioners are seeking broad community representation for the new task force, including small-business owners, retirees, full- and part-time employees and others willing to study revenue options.

Task force members will be appointed by the BOC at its regular meeting Oct. 3. Applications must be submitted by Sept. 25 for consideration.

Citizens can apply on the county’s website’s home page at www.co.curry.or.us, under News, or call 541-247-3296 to receive a paper application. Completed applications can be emailed to Boc_office@co.curry.or.us.

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