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Linn County asks voters to renew, increase public safety levy

Linn Sheriff
Linn County Sheriff
Voters will decide whether to renew and increase a four-year public safety levy in Linn County.

Linn County is asking voters to renew and increase a four-year public safety levy during next month’s election.

The levy provides a significant chunk of funding for the Linn County Sheriff, juvenile corrections, and District Attorney. If voters approve, the rate would go up by around five percent over the current levy.

One thing the extra money would go toward is a new 24-hour intake center for people experiencing a mental health crisis.

“It’s short term stuff, just to get them out of the crisis, get them calmed down so then some treatment folks can come in and talk to them and come together with a plan to help them in the future," said Linn County Sheriff Jim Yon.

The new facility should take some pressure off existing services, thinks District Attorney Doug Marteeny.

“A crisis center like this would help free up beds in the jail, so we could use them actually for the bad guys, the criminals out there, and get the folks that are suffering from mental illness into the mental help sections of county services rather than in a jail," he said.

Voters last renewed the levy with a 70 percent approval, although the last time it was on the ballot, the amount of the levy was not increasing. Marteeny said it's been renewed multiple times at varying levels over the past 30 years.

The public safety levy is the only thing on the ballot in most of Linn County. Voters in Mill City will decide whether to allow the sale of recreational and medical marijuana. And voters in the Stayton Rural Fire Protection District will decide on a five-year property tax levy to expand operations.

Both Mill City and the Stayton Rural Fire Protection district are partially in Marion County. The deadline to return ballots is 8 p.m. on November 2. A new Oregon law that allows postmarks to count toward elections deadlines doesn't take effect until 2022.

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.”