Jessica Cejnar Andrews / Tuesday, June 11 @ 3:16 p.m. / Local Government, Oregon

Curry County Commissioners Approve Fee Increases in Wake Of Levy Vote Failure


Curry County Voters Reject Property Tax Levy Leaving Staff, Elected Officials On Edge of 'Financial Cliff'


Before heading into a 3-plus hour budget committee meeting on Monday, Curry County commissioners approved updates to the county’s fee schedule.

The new fee schedule comes about three weeks after voters defeated a property tax levy that would have paid for law enforcement. The new fee schedule includes several increases that Director of Operations Ted Fitzgerald said “seem fairly substantial.”

Fitzgerald said he and staff were still modifying fees associated with the Curry County Fair, the sheriff’s office and planning department.

“When you add $5 here [and] $5 there, it does make a difference,” he said. “We’re in the business of providing these services in the most efficient manner possible and to the extent a person who’s receiving that service can pay for it in a fair manner. It doesn’t extend to every service we have, but to the extent that we can do that, I think it’s in the best interest of the county.”

Commissioners had warned fees would increase after the measure failed. At its first budget committee meeting the day after Oregon’s May 21 primary election, Finance Director Keina Wolf said Curry County had a $3.8 million general fund deficit. She told commissioners and budget committee members that they had until June 15 to figure out how to cut 41 percent from the general fund.

Commissioners must adopt a balanced budget at their June 20 meeting so Curry County staff can submit it to the Oregon Department of Revenue by July 1, Wolf said May 22.

It’s due to the county’s financial status, that elected officials and department managers were asked to modify their current fees and submit them to the Board of Commissioners.

On Monday, Fitzgerald said in many cases the new fees are associated with the staff time involved in the service they’re associated with.

Fitzgerald said he wanted to compare fees associated with civil services at the Curry County Sheriff's Office with what Coos County charges.

“Coos County [fees] are higher and so I wanted to look at that more carefully because every dollar does count as we move forward with the budget,” he said.

On Monday, commissioners reiterated the warning they made at the May 22 meeting.

“Had the levy passed, we probably wouldn’t be sitting here now,” Commissioner John Herzog said.

His colleague, Jay Trost, said it’s still prudent to look at the fees Curry County charges, especially for departments that are self funded lest they become a drain on the general fund.

More than 71 percent of Curry County voters who cast a ballot in Oregon’s May 21 primary rejected the county’s proposed property tax levy for law enforcement, according to the Oregon Secretary of State’s website.


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