Taxes, more or less, status of LNG were questions at SC Town Hall

It seemed that the January 31 Town Hall meeting held by Jackson County Commissioner Don Skundrick had the potential to get very exciting. What else to think when the meeting was opened with this quote penned on the dry erase board: “It’s OK to disagree, however, civility is the order of the day.” Skundrick jumped right in by reading this quote and noting that anyone not maintaining civility would be asked to leave. Possibly the quote had an effect, but the majority of the questions that ensued during the 90 minute meeting weren’t particularly contentious in nature so likely it was a meeting destined to be civil regardless.

Skundrick also clarified that he would only be fielding questions on county matters; not national, statewide or even civic. Rules laid out; the questions began. Basically these fell into two categories: Money issues and ongoing issues of concern.

Questions in the financial vein began with a request for an explanation/justification as to why the county spent $10,000 on a survey in Ashland regarding the current trend not to vaccinate school aged children. Skundrick provided the first part of the answer noting the County is responsible for public health and needs to know why folks aren’t vaccinating children so they know the best educational approach to take to encourage folks to vaccinate. County Administrator Danny Jordan batted cleanup further noting that the 10K is Federal funding given solely for public health education and outreach and the survey was how the County opted to spend it.

Another complex financial question was on the topic of property taxes. A citizen wanted to know why his taxes kept going up while the taxes of various neighbors within his sub-division were seeing no such increase. Again Skundrick took the lead first noting property taxes are “very complex” in nature and explained the difference between Real Value and Assessed Value. Jordan again lent a hand even sketching out a visual aid on the board. The upshot, taxes will increase until the real value of a home is below the assessed value. Further; a home’s value is based on the year construction was completed – so three homes built in a sub-division may have been completed in three different years. With the economy so flexible lately those three houses; though nearly identical could have three very different values.

Less complex money questions included; is there any way the county could get a measure on the ballot to allot tax monies to the Jackson County Historical Society? In these financial times, no. Would current financial issues cause a lessening in or an increase in price of Sheriff’s Department services? No, due to excellent budgeting by past Commissions the Sheriff’s Department is expected to maintain current services and pricing.

Ongoing issues queried about were: What’s up with LNG? Skundrick advised that though there has been murmurings in the papers and “If you read it in the paper, it must be true.” he feels the issue is dormant at the moment. Audience members disagreed and Skundrick advised he would look into the matter further. Councilor Jim Ulrich also asked about the issue of the damage to the boat dock and safety railings at the county park – an issue that’s been presented to Skundrick before in a city council meeting. Skundrick advised that falls under the purview of the state Marine Board and he believes they are aware of the issue.

On a hopeful note came a question from Mayor Ron Holthusen: What is on the County’s “wish list” for 5+ years down the road? Skundrick stated he not only wants to be able to sustain what the county has now, but hopes in the not too distant future things will turn for the better and they will have “extra” monies to bring back programs that were first and hardest hit. He exemplified the Shady Cove Boys and Girls Club and the Historical Society as two such programs.

Skundrick’s next community meeting will be in Gold Hill.
By Christy Pitto
Of the Independent

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