Jefferson County appeared to pass an operating levy for the Jefferson County Jail on Tuesday, after voting down a larger levy in November.

Reached Tuesday night, Sheriff Jim Adkins was breathing a “huge sigh of relief.” Adkins spent the past few weeks knocking on doors and meeting with community groups. The day before the election, he personally called voters who had yet to turn in their ballots.

The temporary operating levy was passing 55% to 45% in early returns Tuesday.

More than 60 percent of voters sank the levy in November. Adkins then dropped the request to voters for the May election, asking for a three-year operations levy taxing $1.39 per $1,000 of assessed value, a small increase over the five-year, $1.24 per $1,000 levy voters passed in 2013, but less than the $1.70 per $1,000 that went before voters in November.

The levy was intended to address a funding decrease caused by the construction of a new jail in neighboring Crook County. For 18 years, Crook County housed inmates at Jefferson County’s 160-bed facility in Madras, a deal that bolstered Jefferson’s budget by about $750,000 a year. But because of headaches associated with this arrangement, Crook County voters in 2016 passed a $10 million bond to build an $18.5 million jail.

The temporary levy voters appeared to approve Tuesday will keep the jail operational for three years, after which a new funding plan must be put in place. Adkins said he was going to take some time to appreciate the victory.

“I’m just going to relax and enjoy this,” he said.

— Reporter: 541-383-0325, gandrews@bendbulletin.com

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