Editor's Note: The following is a release from Julie A. Schmelzer, Curry County Director of Operations. Also see attached Pilot Guest Columns concerning Curry County's Special Taxing Districts.
County Wants Public Education on Special Districts
How many taxes are to be collected in the coming year? According to the Assessor’s Office, for 2019-2020, the tax roll summary is $27 million. How much of that amount funds county government? $1.9 million. At first glance that sounds like a lot of money—but the school districts (excluding a bond)—receive $14.9 million; the local community college receiving $2.2 million of that amount collected for the school districts.
It has been no secret County Commissioner Christopher Paasch has committed himself to bringing awareness to the number of taxing districts there are in the county, and the amount that is distributed to them.
“Most of these districts were set up years ago when monies were needed to run their facilities, but the revenues most districts realize far exceed what anyone imagined when the districts were created," Paasch said. "I think people need to be aware of where their money goes."
“We have five school districts, five cemetery districts, thirteen fire districts, three sanitary districts, three water districts, and five library districts. We collect for bonds, cities, urban renewal districts, and a road district too. The county assesses the taxes, and collects them, and gets no money to do so. People complain because the assessments are out of date, but how can you effectively run government when you’re expending money collecting for special districts from which you can’t charge for your service? The system is broken.”
Earlier this year the Board of Commissioners met with leaders of the Southwest Oregon Community College to discuss the Board’s concerns over the amount of local tax dollars going to the college for what Paasch says is, ‘to fund services in Coos County’.
Paasch also met with the Chetco Library Board to see if the board would voluntarily contribute some of their revenues to help fund law enforcement and the smaller library districts of Langlois and Agness. Fellow Commissioners did not support Paasch’s proposal to make a formal request to the Library Board.
The Board of County Commissioners has agreed to host an informational session on Special Districts.
“We just want everyone to understand the roles and rules that govern special districts," Paasch said. "We want to make sure our residents understand where their tax dollars go, and what they can do about it if they think they are paying too much."
The informational session will be held at the Elks Club on Elk Drive, Brookings, from 2-4 p.m. Monday, December 9. Speakers include the Department of Revenue and the Oregon Special Districts Association.