PUBLIC SAFETY

Sheriff’s office wants escalating fee raise to keep special east Salem patrol

Residents of Hayesville and Four Corners could soon pay $12 more per year as part of a boosted public safety fee to keep existing sheriff’s deputies who patrol east of Salem city limits.

If county commissioners approve the new fee Thursday, property owners in unincorporated east Salem will pay an extra $1 per month for the deputies assigned to that area starting later this year.

The fee would increase by $12 a year for the next five years.

The East Salem Service District currently charges $10 a month for every household, apartment or acre of commercial property. The fee is added to property tax bills.

Proposed East Salem patrol fees

  • Now: $10 per month ($120 per year)
  • Starting July 2024: $11 per month ($132 per year)
  • July 2025: $12 per month ($144 per year)
  • July 2026: $13 per month ($156 per year)
  • July 2027: $14 per month ($168 per year)
  • July  2028: $15 per month ($180 per year)

*Then, 5% fee increase:

  • July 2029: $15.75 per month ($189 per year)
  • July 2030: $16.54 per month ($198 per year)
  • July 2031: $17.37 per month ($208 per year)
  • July 2032: $18.24 per month ($219 per year)

The extra fee would increase by $1 monthly for the next five years. 

That means that people who live in the East Salem Service District would end up paying $60 more per year than they do now by the summer of 2028. After that, the fee would increase by 5% each year.

MAP: East Salem Service District

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office would not assign new deputies to the service district if the fee is approved, but would retain the 10 deputies who already patrol that area. 

“The increased fee is needed to keep up with inflation and operating costs,” according to sheriff’s office spokesman deputy Jeremy Schwab.

The fee is decided by the East Salem Service District Board. Under Oregon law, the board members are Marion County Commissioners Danielle Bethell, Kevin Cameron and Colm Willis. They will vote on the fee during their meeting on Thursday, May 16, at 1:30 p.m.

The meeting will be held in the Marion County Commissioners Board Room at 555 Court St. N.E., fifth floor. The public can only attend the meeting by phone conference. People can contact county staff for more information by calling (503) 365-3178 or emailing [email protected].

The board of commissioners can also be reached at [email protected].

Marion County sheriff’s deputies said they seized this homemade, unserialized Glock-style pistol, also known as a ghost gun, from an arrested 17-year-old. The teen was a passenger in a vehicle stopped for traffic violations in the East Salem Service District on March 9, 2024 (Marion County Sheriff’s Office)

If approved, the fee increase would become part of the sheriff’s office budget for 2024-25. The sheriff’s office budgeted $2,787,463 from the fee this year. Spokesmen for the sheriff’s office and county did not provide the amount they expect the fee increase to raise after several requests from Salem Reporter.

The sheriff’s office assigns deputies exclusively to the service district in a manner similar to its contracts with the cities of Aurora, Jefferson and Sublimity.

The district also provides stormwater management and Portland General Electric service to add and maintain street lights east of Salem city limits.

Hayesville and Four Corners had a combined population of around 38,600 as of April 2020, the most recent data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Calls for service in the East Salem district remained roughly the same from 2021 to 2023, fluctuating between around 19,253 and 19,716, according to Schwab.

Almost one-third of police calls for service in Marion County come from the service district, according to a county slideshow from a town hall about the proposed fee raise.

The district’s population is near that of Keizer, which has four times the number of police officers.

Contact reporter Ardeshir Tabrizian: [email protected] or 503-929-3053.

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Ardeshir Tabrizian has covered criminal justice and housing for Salem Reporter since September 2021. As an Oregon native, his award-winning watchdog journalism has traversed the state. He has done reporting for The Oregonian, Eugene Weekly and Malheur Enterprise.