Code changes and library discussed by commissioners

Seven more properties were annexed into the Josephine Community Library District by the Josephine County Board of Commissioners during their May 1 weekly business session at Anne G. Basker Auditorium, as citizens remain divided over the county’s policy for handling annexations and secessions from the district.
Board Chair John West read the list of property owners and acreages aloud. These annexations made up board orders 2024-016 through 2024-022:
-David & Eden Isaacs; 20.4 acres
-Robert Lieberman; 4.16 acres
-Thomas & Loreen Link; 10 acres
-Dennis & Sharon Rogers; 1.8 acres
-Sandra Lee Schwab; 2.4 acres
-Sinclair, Stillwell & McCorkle; 1.14 acres
-Sinclair, Stillwell & McCorkle; 3.15 acres
Michelle Rosenberg from the library district was invited to speak on the annexations, and she kept her remarks brief: “I mean, there’s not much to say. There are people who have requested to annex into the district and the paperwork is submitted to the county commissioners.”
Commissioner Herman Baertschiger, in light of the county recently revising the forms for annexations, wanted to make sure the applicants were pleased with the process.
“Was it easy, Was it accommodatable?” Baertschiger asked Rosenberg. “Was it complicated?”
Rosenberg said none of the applicants had complaints regarding the process.
Commissioner Dan DeYoung also confirmed with Rosenberg that applicants were made aware that if they sell their property, library district membership does not cease when ownership is transferred; the new owners will still be on the hook for library taxes.
During the public hearing on the library annexations, four citizens approached the podium with concerns. Joseph Rice wanted to make sure prospective library district joiners are sufficiently notified that if the district defaults, district taxpayers “would have a financial responsibility to pay off the debt of the district.”
Bill Hunker raised this concern as well: “The county commissioners have a fiduciary responsibility to the 125 other owners that were previously annexed by the county…
It is Josephine County’s sole responsibility to fully disclose to those past 130 opt-in annexations that they processed. I can envision some very unfortunate realtors who may get dunned by unhappy buyers when they discover that their properties were subject to ORS 198-860 and were never given full disclosure by their realtor.”
Hunker went on, “Class action lawsuits could be a remedy for those voters who did not understand that their original district vote would jeopardize their property without standing library indebtedness; they were never given full disclosure. That prickly issue has yet to be resolved by the library or the commissioners. Rumor has it that the library management comment was just don’t bring it up. You and I both know it has to be brought up and resolved if ethical government is to be maintained in Josephine County.”
Meeting frequenter Judy Ahrens endorsed the points raised by both Rice and Hunker, adding, “I have some really negative feelings overall about the library.”
Finally, Winnie Pelfry wondered if “it might be possible that that whole district be done away with, adding, “Not knowing that any bills that they incur if something happens to the library that we’re all responsible for that property. That really bothers me.”
Four other public hearings took place at the May 1 meeting. All of these related to the county’s ongoing quest to repeal or amend outdated chapters of the Josephine County Code. As has been the case, county assistant legal counsel Leah Harper joined the board to explain the reasoning behind the code changes. A second reading and approval of these ordinances is scheduled for May 15.

Ordinance 2024-011 would repeal Chapter 2.60: Southern Oregon Library Information System. Per Harper, “In 1999, the county obtained a grant to implement the Southern Oregon Library Information System, also called SOLIS. This program automated the library system between Klamath County and RCC in Jackson County and the county no longer operates the libraries. So this chapter needs to be repealed.”

Next, Ordinance 2024-012 repeals Chapter 2.65: Law Enforcement Data System. “This ordinance was enacted back in 2002,” Harper said. “The purpose of it was to allow human resources to use the law enforcement data system at the Sheriff’s Office. The LEDS system has very strict federal and state guidelines and it is more prudent for HR to go through a third party vendor. And so they’ve been doing that; this chapter has not been used. It should be repealed.”

Harper also noted, “Candidates for certain law enforcement employment such as the DA’s Office, the Sheriff’s Office, parole and probation still do get their background checks through LEDS and that is allowed by statute.”

Ordinance 2024-013 amends Chapter 2.70: Law Library. According to Harper, “This ordinance just amends the ordinance on the county law library. It only requires the law library to be to be maintained for so long as there is state funding for the law library and it is amended so that access is available outside of regular hours for both licensed attorneys and other certified licensed paralegals and legal services providers. The state law has changed so that the state bar has opened up practice of law to certify paralegals of law and other legal services so they are also allowed access outside of regular hours. And the other amendment is that the ordinance is made so that the hours are more flexible so far as being open to the public.”

The final ordinance of the meeting was 2024-014, which repeals Chapter 3.10: Public Works Revolving Fund. Harper supplied this explanation for dissolving the chapter: “The fund was created back in 1981 to finance road improvements. The fund was closed probably about 20 years ago and so we need to just get this ordinance off the books.”

The video recording of the May 1 county meeting cuts off before the final action on the agenda, but the board was slated to appoint Tom Hilton to the Parks Advisory Board for a four-year term expiring May 1, 2028.

According to today’s county meeting agenda, taking place at Anne G. Basker Auditorium at 9 a.m., Sheriff Dave Daniel will be presenting deputies with medals of valor, and two properties will be annexed into the Illinois Valley Fire District.