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Officials urge passage of public safety levy

TRIBUNE PHOTO: PETER WONG - Washington County Sheriff Pat Garrett and District Attorney Bob Hermann attended the Washington County Public Affairs Forum on Monday to explain and support Measure 34-236 for five-year public safety levy.
Two top officials say that voter renewal of a property tax levy will maintain criminal justice and public safety services in all of fast-growing Washington County for another five years.

“Whether you live within a city, an unincorporated area or a rural community, you receive services from this levy,” said Sheriff Pat Garrett, who spoke Monday at the Washington County Public Affairs Forum.

“It ensures that our public safety services are provided adequately and allow us flexibility to be creative and innovative.”

Measure 34-236 on the Nov. 3 ballot proposes to continue the levy, at 42 cents per $1,000 taxable value, for another five years starting in July 2016. For the owner of a home with an assessed value of $255,408, the levy would cost $107 annually, about $9 per month.

Measure 34-235, which proposes a library levy, is the subject of the Oct. 5 forum.

Voters have authorized a tax levy for public safety purposes since 2000. The current measure is the third renewal. It provides an average of one of every six dollars spent by public safety agencies.

Among the countywide services supported by the levy are operations of the jail in Hillsboro, prosecution of criminal suspects, parole and probation for offenders, services for juvenile offenders, shelters for survivors of domestic violence, and specialized teams for crash reconstruction, crisis response and mental health.

District Attorney Bob Hermann said the levy recognizes that while there are city and county boundaries, crime and its effects have none.

“We do not recognize city boundaries in prosecution services,” Hermann said during the forum. “If a crime occurs, that case comes to my office.”

He also said his office reported 60,000 contacts with crime victims in 2014, some of them with the same people.

Rob Solomon, president of the forum, said he was unable to find organized opposition to argue against Measure 34-236.

The levy does not fund sheriff’s patrols in unincorporated areas outside city boundaries. They are within a separate Enhanced Sheriff’s Patrol District, with its own levy, established in 1987.

Garrett said his office, out of necessity, works closely with other public safety agencies within county government and with other police and law enforcement agencies.

“We know that if we make an arrest, it does no good if there are not sufficient prosecution and parole and probation services in the end,” he said.

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