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Public input sought on potential increase of property taxes for public safety at Feb. 25 meeting

SCREENSHOT - ZOOM - Clackamas County Sheriff Angela Brandenburg is seeking a 12-cent increase for the Clackamas Sheriff's Levy to meet risings costs, demand for services and mental heal bed capacity. The Clackamas Board of County Commissioners will host a public hearing on a potential property tax increase for public safety.

The public hearing tentatively scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 25, will explore the question of a proposed increase of 12 cents per $1,000 of assessed value and what options voters might favor on the May ballot.

While the county has no legal obligation to hold a public hearing on the matter, County Chair Tootie Smith told her colleagues Tuesday, Feb. 16, that it's the best course of action to gain feedback from the public and allow residents to better understand what it is they're considering.

"I think that is the proper and transparent way to do this," Smith said.

Currently, Clackamas County Sheriff Angela Brandenburg has proposed raising the levy from 24.8 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, to 36.8 cents. The levy — known colloquially as the Clackamas Sheriff's Levy — was first passed by voters in 2006 and has been approved every five years since. This is the first time in its 15-year history that the sheriff has asked for it to be increased.

According to Brandenburg, rising costs and increased calls for service have led the sheriff's office to require more funding in order to meet public-safety demand in Clackamas County. The increase would go toward funding additional deputy positions, mental health bed capacity and a new body-camera program.

The board has until Saturday, Feb. 27 to make a decision on whether to put the levy increase on the May ballot.

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