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Benton County puts $110 million public safety bond on May ballot

Photo of the exterior of the Benton County Jail
File photo
Benton County Sheriff
The $110 bond would, among other things, pay for a replacement for the Benton County Jail.

Benton County voters will decide whether to approve a $110 million public safety bond. Commissioners voted Tuesday to send the measure to the May ballot.

The money would be part of a larger effort to overhaul the county’s criminal justice facilities. Specifically, the county says the bond would go towards a new jail, sheriff’s office and emergency operations center. A new courthouse is also planned, to replace the aging historic courthouse in downtown Corvallis. But Commissioner Nancy Wyse clarified that the bond isn’t going to pay for that part of the project.

“The courthouse is not a part of the bond," she said. "We have about $25 million coming from the state and we are building the courthouse whether or not the bond passes.”

Commissioners say the measure will also include a homelessness services center. The county says the bond would cost a typical homeowner about $150 a year.

Wyse initially proposed a $114 million bond, but the two other commissioners, Pat Malone and Xan Augerot, hesitated. Both stated their preference for a lower bond amount.

"I feel more comfortable that way, trying to live a little more within our means," said Augerot.

Wyse eventually agreed with the lower amount, and the three commissioners voted unanimously to send the $110 million bond to voters.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”
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