Recently, we attended a meeting at which we listened to our Umatilla County Commissioner Bill Elfering speak to us about two new levies at the county level. One levy is to provide additional Umatilla County sheriff deputies as the current number is at a distinct shortage based on the area and number of people to be served.

The second part of the levy is our county jail needs the funds to adequately serve the community at large.

We do not question the necessity of either one of those undertakings as they are both necessary and of the highest priority. However, both of these levies will come with an expense, and thus each will raise the taxes paid by the citizens of the county, namely you and I, the taxpaying public.

While we do not question the necessity of the services, we do question the additional taxes placed upon our people.

We believe the answer to this funding question comes down to a matter of priorities.

We have been led to believe, by the county, that the two issues are of top priority, and we agree with this proposition.

However, we do not agree with the question of budget priorities. Within the spending budget of the county, we question “Have these issues been given the highest priority which they deserve, relative to the money on hand?” Our answer to this question is no to doubtful.

In carefully looking over the county budget, we find items being paid for which are in fact much less of a priority than the sheriff and the jail. We have been told the budget has been prioritized and all cuts have been made that can be made, and there is nowhere else to cut.

We find both propositions to be questionable at best. There are other ways, within the current budget, to meet these demands without raising taxes on the people who are already overtaxed. A lack of taxes is not our problem, but too many taxes are.

Therefore, we, at the County Tea Parties of Hermiston, Pendleton and Milton-Freewater advise to vote against both of these levies.

If the county will truly “prioritize,” money can be found within the current budget to fund these two important programs.

Rob Lovett, Chairman

Greater Hermiston Area Tea Party

— Editor’s note:?The Hermiston Herald is no longer printing letters to the editor regarding levies on upcoming ballot. Any additional letters will only be printed online. The Hermiston Herald welcomes all other letters to the editor. Letters may be mailed to the Hermiston Herald, 333 E. Main,?Hermiston, OR, 97838; or e-mailed to Letters must be signed by the author and include a daytime phone number and city of residence. Phone numbers will not be published

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