Officials Face Extensive Questions at Community Safety Measure Town Hall

Last night, county officials sat for questions on a justice facilities tax they’re putting before voters – a town hall style event that deeply covered financing, prospective outcomes for justice involved people and law enforcement, impacts to neighborhoods and the larger community – and you get the idea, the list could go on. 

The questioning from both the audience and Advocate editorial board was extensive. Part of the paper’s CitySpeak town hall series, the video is available below – and at over an hour and a half, we’ll keep it on our site so you can watch it in parts, if you’d like.  

Here’s some of the basics: Ballots will go out later this month, and are due back by May 16. The County is seeking approval of a community safety tax to fund a new jail, and sheriff’s office/emergency response center.  

The cost to voters for Measure 2-140 would be $110 million.  

Homeowners would pay directly with their property taxes, renters may see rate impacts too. Property taxes would increase by 55 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. The county says the cost to the typical homeowner would be $142 per year, based on the median assessed home value in Benton County of $258,596. Assessed values are generally lower than actual market values. Commercial properties would also be assessed, including low income rental housing. 

The ballot measure going before voters is part of a larger plan. Already funded with a combination of borrowed dollars and various state federal grants: a new courthouse, district attorney’s office, and mental health crisis center. The total cost of those projects is estimated to amount to about $80 million. 

Those county officials that participated in the CitySpeak town hall were: 

  • Xan Augerot, Benton County Commissioner 
  • Jef Van Arsdall, Benton County Sheriff 
  • Rick Crager, Chief Financial Officer for Benton County 
  • Nick Kurth, Project Manager for Benton County

CitySpeak forums are free to the public, and are co-presented by City Club of Corvallis and The Corvallis Advocate. Sponsors include Peak Sports and First Alternative Natural Foods Co-op.  

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