Douglas County Extention Service Measure (2008)
. The Extension Service is currently set to close on July 1, 2008, its cash reserves depleted since Douglas County ended its general funding in June 2007 because of the uncertainty of a timber safety net extension. Douglas County commissioners agreed to end the Extension Service’s funding in favor of other social services.
The measure formed a permanent taxing district for a maximum rate of 6.5 cents per $1,000 of a property’s value assessed to fund the Extension Service. For example, if the assessed market value of a home is $100,000, its tax for the Extension Service would come to $6.50 per year.
This measure was approved
- YES 22,018 (63.5%)
- NO 12,118 (35.5%)
To be viable in 2009, the Extension Service needs about $357,000. Because of the loss of county funding, which amounted to about $153,000 from the general fund, and “in-kind” services such as utilities, maintenance, janitorial services and the Church Annex building the Extension Service occupies next to the Douglas County Courthouse in Roseburg, the taxing district would likely collect the full 6.5 cents for only the first year. After that, it would likely collect in the range of 5 to 5.5 cents the following years, but the maximum rate would remain in place in case of any difficulties with funding in the future.
The Friends of Extension was formed a month after the ruling to end funding for the Extention Service in 2007. Dan Brumfield who heads the organization says the Extension Service is the only place where a resident can get a pressure cooker tested in the county. It’s also the only place where instruction on growing a vegetable garden and canning its bounty for winter use is provided for free. He and other 10-86 supporters hope voters will realize how important the Extension Service is for economic hard times.
“The taxpayers get an awful lot of bang for their buck” with the passage of the measure, he said.
For some families, 4-H and other Extension Service projects have been a way of life for generations and they are concerned about what will happen if they go away.
Larry Andrew, who has written opinion letters to The News-Review asking voters to quash the Extension Service levy, said he’s not against 4-H or other services, but he believes voters would set a shaky precedent if they pass a taxing district for Master Gardeners, Food Preservers and 4-H. He said taxing districts for other county services, such as the Sheriff’s Office, mental health services, mass transit and libraries, will be imperative if a timber safety net extension isn’t passed.
“Each of these is eligible for a special-tax levy,” Andrew said. “And they just add up,” making it “much more difficult to control costs.”
Andrew, a former city manager of Canyonville from 1996 to 2000, also worries about tax compression.
Due to Measure 50, which was approved by Oregon voters in 1997, local government cannot tax an assessed property more than $10 per $1,000 of real market value. If the assessed tax rises above that rate, the tax is compressed to a rate below the cap. The lost revenue is then divided among the proper taxing districts. The more taxing districts that are assessed to a property and the higher the rate, the more likely the property tax will reach the maximum allowed under the law.
Of the 11 cities the Friends of Extension approached to include Measure 10-86 on their ballot, two declined: Canyonville and Reedsport. If the measure passes, Canyonville and Reedsport residents who wish to participate in 4-H or other Extension Service activities will have to pay a fee. That amount hasn’t been set, but their city councils could also ask to be annexed into the taxing district.
This article was created with information from:
- Procedures for qualifying an initiative in Oregon
- Laws governing the initiative process in Oregon
- Oregon ballot initiative news
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