Jackson County jail initiative pushed out to 2020


The campaign to get a jail initiative on the November ballot is now over.

All 11 incorporated cities in Jackson County had to agree to participate in a service district by May 17th in order for the initiative to be put on the ballot.

The project was funded by a 20 year $100 million dollar bond, backed by a service district, which will also support the operational costs of the 800-bed facility.

The measure sought to get permission from the cities to be included in the jail district and ultimately allow the voters to decide.

Tuesday night on a 2 to 3 vote the City of Ashland failed to get enough councilors to support the measure essentially killing the initiative this year.

"It means we're not going to go forward to the November ballot," Sheriff Nathan Sickler said. "We're going to hopefully regroup and have some discussions with the cities and see what they want to see in this plan so they can potentially support it."

The Ashland vote came down on a 3 to 2 vote. Councilors Stephen Jensen and Rich Rosenthal voted to approve it. Julie Akins was absent. Councilors Dennis Slattery, Stefani Seffinger and Tonya Graham dissented.

Talent City Council had issues with it but chose not to be the spoiler when it came up for a vote May 1.

The council chose not to take any action. The item was discussed and no motion was presented due to lack of support to pass it, according to the City Recorder.

"There are general overtones that they want to explore other options and 'what does the mental health and addiction services look like?' Those things are probably could be resolved with conversations," Sickler said.

"So this will give us more time to do those things."

The Jacksonville City Council voted Tuesday night but that vote was unanimously in favor of the measure.

So far, eight Jackson County cities – Jacksonville, Gold Hill, Medford, Phoenix, Central Point, Butte Falls, Eagle Point, and Rogue River – have agreed to refer the matter of a proposed county-wide jail service district to voters.

Shady Cove will take up the matter at their May 16th City Council meeting.

Sickler is concerned the longer it takes to get construction started the more it may cost to build it.

"We've presented a solution that will last us way into the future," Sickler said. "The costs will likely not be able to be obtained as we go into the future meaning costs will only go up for projects like this."

For now Sickler said he'll work with leaders to hash out a new plan for a possible ballot initiative as early as May 2020.

"We've done our due diligence," Sickler said. "Obviously we would want it to be successful right off the bat but this is a big plan, a big project and a big commitment. It may take a little bit of time."

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