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Despite campaign, sheriffs levy falls short

Sheriff says it was a 'tough time' for new taxes
by: Metro Graphics

Prior to the May 17 election, Sheriff Jeff Dickerson was optimistic about voters passing his Sheriff's Stable Funding operating levy.

Calls to constituents by phone bank operators leading up to the election indicated nearly 80 percent support for the new tax. But the levy - which promised increased patrols, the hiring of 12 new positions and faster backup assistance, while increasing property taxes by 62 cents per $1,000 of home value - lost by nearly 2,000 votes.

'I had hoped we would prevail,' Dickerson said. 'We do believe that in the end, in hindsight, it was a tough time for new taxes.'

A lot was riding on the election, Dickerson said, including the financial support of dozens of local citizens.

The campaign, which Dickerson characterized as 'awesome,' raised and spent more than $30,000.

Now, Dickerson is looking at cuts to the county jail and making due with what he has.

He plans to reduce the number of beds at the jail. He's already stopped watering the lawn and ceased the jail's community garden program.

Dickerson has identified one potential source of revenue in the future, though.

The Sheriff's Office now awaits word on the reauthorization of the federally administered county timber payments program, a traditional source of discretionary county money. The future of the program is uncertain, though, despite appearing in the president's proposed budget as well as the Republican-controlled congressional budget.