Tribal Government & News

Tribe supportive of Polk County public safety levy effort

02.12.2015 Dean Rhodes Elections, Public Safety

By Dean Rhodes

Smoke Signals editor

The Polk County Board of Commissioners voted on Jan. 28 to place a five-year, 45 cents per $1,000 of assessed value property tax levy on the May 19 ballot to raise funds to pay for public safety.

The proposal is supported by the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde.

The commissioners voted on the levy after holding nine public hearings throughout the county, including one in Grand Ronde.

If approved, the levy would restore 22 employees to the Polk County Sheriff’s and District Attorney’s offices, and provide more resources to the Juvenile and Community Corrections departments.

Tribal Council Secretary Toby McClary attended two of the public hearings and read a statement from the Tribe.

“The Tribal government provides our own Grand Ronde Tribal Police Department and we are proud of our officers, our chief and our department. As such, we know firsthand the costs of operating this important public safety function and we are sensitive to the difficulties Polk County has in providing stable revenues for its law enforcement operations,” McClary said.

“Tribal Council supports the concept of Polk County providing new revenue for a rebuild of your law enforcement capacity. Your proposal to offer to voters a new operating levy of an additional 45 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value for five years would provide a critically important boost to the Sheriff’s Office and county law enforcement. Our Tribe, the community of Grand Ronde and Polk County as a whole would benefit from the increased law enforcement and jail coverage that would result from this substantial new revenue.

“New tax levies are difficult. We encourage you to take the time to work with your constituents and not hurry to a new ballot. Education is a critical component to any new ballot measure. On behalf of the Tribal Council, we offer our assistance if we can be of help.”

Tribal Council Chairman Reyn Leno read a similar statement at the Jan. 8 public hearing held in Grand Ronde.

For a $200,000 home, the levy would cost a homeowner an additional $90 a year in taxes. If the levy is approved, it would raise an additional $2.25 million annually to fund public safety positions in the county.

Commissioner Jennifer Wheeler said that testimony during the hearings from people who called 911 and were told no deputies were available – because of budget cuts and reduced patrol hours – prompted her to place the levy on the May ballot instead of waiting until November.


Includes information from the Polk County Itemizer-Observer.