Budget would add 20 workers

Jackson County is proposing a budget of $358 million for the fiscal year that begins in July, up from the current budget of $339 million.

However, county property taxes would remain flat at $2.01 per $1,000 of assessed property value. That equates to $402 for the owner of property assessed at $200,000.

The Jackson County Budget Committee will hear department presentations and take public input during meetings at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, April 10, and 9 a.m. Thursday, April 12, in the Jackson County Courthouse Auditorium, 10 S. Oakdale Ave., Medford.

The number of county government employees would rise by the equivalent of 19.75 full-time employees, according to the proposed budget.

The Community Justice Department would add the equivalent of six full-time employees using grants that aim to reduce the state prison population through residential and transitional support services offered through the court system and the county’s Transition Center between Talent and Phoenix.

The Health and Human Services Department is losing almost six full-time equivalent positions in mental health but adding employees in other areas, including a worker to aid veterans and the equivalent of almost four full-time workers to deal with an increase in sexually transmitted diseases and other communicable illnesses.

A vacant position will be eliminated from Justice Court because of a drop-off in traffic citations and court cases.

The Sheriff’s Office would add a deputy for search and rescue, a deputy to assist the high-tech crimes task force and a property evidence clerk.

The budget allows for cost-of-living increases for a variety of employee groups, including a 2.65 percent increase for managers, a 2.5 percent increase for service workers and parole and probation officers, and a 2.4 percent raise for unionized Sheriff’s Office employees.

Any raises for elected officials will be determined by the three citizen members of the Jackson County Budget Committee. The committee is made up of the three citizens plus the three-member Jackson County Board of Commissioners.

Two of the three commissioners, Colleen Roberts and Bob Strosser, have not been taking their full authorized salaries.

The county is continuing to be hit by increases in the amount it must pay toward the Public Employees Retirement System. Costs increased by 4.19 percent for the current fiscal year, and additional increases are expected for the fiscal years beginning in July 2019 and July 2021.

The Oregon Legislature passed a law allowing local governments to make lump sum payments toward their PERS obligations. The state will then add in up to 25 percent of the amount paid by the local government.

If Jackson County made a lump sum payment of $22.2 million, the state would add in $5.5 million to help cover the county’s PERS costs. The county is poised to take advantage of the program, according to the budget proposal.

For more details on the proposed budget, see http://ow.ly/M5u030jlpYs.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/VickieAldous.

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