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Updated 12:17pm - Sep 29, 2014

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Upcoming tax option misunderstood

By Valliant Corley

WesCom News Service

GOLD BEACH, Ore. – Curry County Commissioner Marlyn Schafer says many county residents have the wrong idea about the temporary local option tax on the May 15 ballot.

"Some think the whole tax bill's going to quadruple," she said. "When you write your check to the county for taxes, it will not be quadrupled."

Schafer said that she has had several telephone calls from county residents who did not understand what was happening.

Because Curry County may not see safety net money from the government to replace timber harvest payments, the county must cut its budget, laying off much of its work force.

With the federal government owning half of the land in Curry County, there isn't a large enough tax base to support the county government, she said.

The federal government agreed years ago to pay half the receipts from timber harvested on public lands to the county. But there has been no recent harvest on those lands. Safety net money that had been approved for the O&C counties ended last year and has not been extended.

"Schools will be in much worse shape than they are in now," she said.

That's because when county employees lose their jobs, they are likely to move elsewhere, she said. When that happens, the school is left with a smaller enrollment and a cut in state funding.

The increase for the county's portion of the tax bill will amount to only $1.86 for each $1,000 of the property's assessed value. If the assessed value is $100,000, it would be $186 for the year.

County Assessor Jim Kolen said the average home in Curry County is assessed at about half the home's market value.

Under state law, the county cannot increase taxes for more than five years.

One provision of the tax increase is that it will not be collected in any year the county collects the safety net funds from the federal government.

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