HERMISTON - Umatilla County Sheriff John Trumbo appealed to the Hermiston City Council Monday night in hopes of spreading the word about a proposal on November's ballot to hike property taxes to pay for more deputies and guards at the county jail.
If approved, the measure would inject at the most $3.5 million a year into law enforcement in the county's unincorporated areas, which are dangerously underserved, Trumbo said.
Trumbo argued that even those who live in cities and towns would benefit from additional policing and jail space. Methamphetamine production, abuse and associated crimes are the No. 1 law enforcement problem that could be addressed with the money, which would come on top of money already given to his department.
"They are making the dope in the county and bringing it into the cities," Trumbo said.
Trumbo's plan for spending the money is to first incarcerate up to 100 people who would likely be in the county jail if it had the staff to look after them. Second, he would add about 17 new deputies, which Trumbo said would allow his office to provide at least one on-duty officer 24 hours per day.
Hermiston Police Chief Daniel Coulombe would not take an official position on the measure, but agreed with some of Trumbo's points.
"It's an outrage not to have 24 hour coverage in a county this size," Coulombe said.
The tax would be about $1.05 per $1,000 of assessed property value. If approved, a person whose house is worth $100,000 would see their tax bill rise about $105 a year. As proposed, the ballot measure would expire in five years.