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With the election season now behind us and our elected officials now safely ensconced for the foreseeable future, now may be the time to review what they may have in store for us going forward.

The cities of Coos Bay and North Bend have explored to the point one ballot measure was submitted that would have supported additional public safety by imposing user fees. The Coos County Board of Commissioners and Sheriff this year have explored raising taxes to support the jail.

In April the Sheriff made two proposals during his budget presentation regarding a jail levy. The first was in the amount of $2.6 million or $.48 per thousand, the second was for $5.3 million or $.97 per thousand. This will probably be the starting point for forthcoming discussions.

You have to ask how these additional monies are to be allocated by the respective City or County Budget. Will it supplement their current budget? This would not relieve their budgets of future demands. Would it supplant their current budget? This would free up the tax amount from the budget, relieving future demands. However, would the budget now freed up by these dollars, become subject to new spending? Or it could be a hybrid of the two.

As tax payers should this concern us? Firstly the voters in the Coos Bay school district just passed a bond that raised taxes on approximately 33% of County citizens by $1.60 per thousand. On a $200,000 property the jail levy would incur an additional $100-200 per year in addition to the $320 per year increase reflected on this year’s tax statement. Can citizens on fixed incomes shoulder the additional cost? Will citizens of Coos Bay support the burden of future obligations within their city on top of those passed and proposed?

Housing is already tight and rents are increasing. These costs will have to be passed on. How will this affect homeowners and renters already on the edge? Could this lead to more homeless? What about those currently homeless trying to transition into housing. Will that goal become even more daunting? Will people just give up and leave the area? Will the dynamics of the Bay Area change?

Whether called a user fee or taxes they have consequences, sometimes unintended. Government policy can actually harm the livability, economy and growth of the area and the citizens they serve.

Steve Scheer

Coos Bay

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