Lane County Commissioners will address serious public saferty needs when we pass the 2016-2017 budget this year.
After passing the Sheriff’s levy in 2013, voters were promised rigorous standards in keeping dangerous criminals off the streets. We have exceeded the promises made to the voters, while responsibly managing taxpayer resources. The levy was approved to fund a minimum of 255 local adult jail beds and additional services for youth offenders. Currently, there are 317 local jail beds – exceeding the minimum promised by 62 beds, with an additional five to open in 2016.
The additional local jail beds funded by the levy have reduced capacity-based releases (CBRs) by 65 percent and eliminated the pre-trial release of violent, Measure 11 offenders.
Lane County Commissioners will now consider reducing the existing levy rate and continuing to operate the jail more efficiently than anyone thought possible.
Reasons for the proposed levy rate reduction:
- Lane County property tax revenue and state corrections funding have increased more than anticipated.
- The County has provided $6.5 million more General Fund support for the jail than anticipated. This is due to unanticipated Secure Rural Schools payments for two additional years following the passage of the levy. (The Secure Rural Schools program has since ended.)
- The hiring process at the jail to fill levy-funded positions has taken longer than anticipated, saving money.
Sheriff Byron Trapp shared that “our community put great faith in us when they approved the levy. We want to show them that we are being responsible with their money and continuing to provide the services we promised. Every dollar counts to our residents and families.”
Additional public safety needs will be addressed:
At the Budget Committee meeting on May 2, County administrator Steve Mokrohisky and Sheriff Byron Trapp outlined plans to address the burgeoning needs in behavioral health, including mental illness and substance abuse.
In addition to keeping more sentenced violent criminals behind bars, the Commission will consider using general fund dollars to add three full-time mental health specialists and an additional parole and probation officer to the jail staff to ensure that people suffering from behavioral health disorders will receive adequate treatment and complete their sentences while reducing their likelihood of returning to courts and jail.
Treating behavioral health needs, including substance abuse, will create a path to reducing crime and helping affected men and women enjoy more productive and satisfying lives.