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Old 11-02-2008, 11:54 AM
 
2 posts, read 3,985 times
Reputation: 11

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I believe trust is earned. With what little trust the public has in our local county government, maybe it is time to remove some of the variables. People are tired of the annual ‘sky is falling’ rhetoric, ‘we must cut police and schools’ unless we raise taxes. This ‘putting feet to the fire’ threat doesn’t work. Year after year, Public Safety ballot measures have been defeated. This has created a very unfortunate situation for all of us. The Lane County Jail system is severely inadequate for our population, and even fully staffed, is less than 50% of what is needed. However, the people of Lane County are NOT going to write a blank check to a governing party that has proved itself unresponsive to the needs of its constituents.

To help alleviate some of this mistrust, I propose new county bi-laws be introduced, that make any future proposed decreases in funding to Public Safety and Public Schools go before the voters. In addition, I see no reason that the $7-8 million needed to fully utilize the current jail and Community Correction Center cannot be funded from the renewed SRS funds. After all, this is the reason so many elected officials worked so diligently, to get these funds renewed. While I do see the reasoning behind paying down some of the county’s debts to lower interest payments, now is not the time. Perhaps the commissioners should bring a levy to the voters so that WE can decide if paying off/down these obligations is a good thing to do right now.

Earning the public’s trust really isn’t very complicated. Make decisions that exemplify the priorities of the general public. Manage the county budget like everyone else has to manage theirs. A funding measure to maintain the status-quo, in our local jail will never pass. And it shouldn’t have to. Safety should be priority number one. Everything else is optional. We don’t HAVE to run dozens of parks, libraries, an animal shelter, etc… But, we all want these things in addition to having a safe community. These things being optional can be funded secondary, much like the ‘entertainment’ section of a family budget. Public Safety and Public Schools ARE what we pay taxes for.

Given these measures of good-faith, and future assurances, trust can be re-built. Our community and our elected officials can then work together to find an efficient solution to our lack of jail space. Perhaps a future measure can be drafted to fund a new correctional facility. A new facility would be costly and require an increase in taxes, which no one wants to pay. But, willing or not, we are all paying the cost of our currently ineffective system. Whether you have been victimized personally or not, you are paying. Being nationally recognized as an ‘auto-theft capital’ and ‘meth hub’ effects our home and auto insurance rates, house values and salability, and loss of tourism.


Using rough figures, a new facility could cost $80 million, which if raised in property tax would be approximately $.25 per $1000 of taxable home value, or $58.75, for the average home owner ($235,000 Lane County 2007 median home price). A relatively small price to pay for the safety of our families, values of our homes, and futures of our community businesses.

In regards to our County Commissioners, let their behavior and actions speak for their priorities. Too many times I have seen behavior completely unacceptable for an elected official from more than one board member. Be an informed citizen, watch the commissioners past and upcoming meetings on webcasts at http://lanecounty.org/webcast/Default.aspx Don’t let misrepresentation go unchecked. Contact your Commissioner by phone, postal mail, email or public comment at their meetings. Next meeting is Nov. 5th, 2008 9 AM, live on webcast or view in person.

Last edited by savelanecounty; 11-02-2008 at 12:00 PM.. Reason: Font error
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Old 11-03-2008, 11:32 AM
 
6,061 posts, read 13,822,366 times
Reputation: 7100
Quote:
Originally Posted by savelanecounty View Post
‘we must cut police and schools’ unless we raise taxes. ...Be an informed citizen, watch the commissioners past and upcoming meetings on webcasts at http://lanecounty.org/webcast/Default.aspx Don’t let misrepresentation go unchecked. Contact your Commissioner by phone, postal mail, email or public comment at their meetings. Next meeting is Nov. 5th, 2008 9 AM, live on webcast or view in person.
Thank you for sharing this. Personally, I feel like a big dummy when it comes to politics. None of it makes any sense to me when I try to learn about what's going on with our government - whether it be on the local or national level.

For the life of me I can't figure out how or why a city would want to give money to things like a Whole Foods or flower baskets or bottled water or more parking lots or whatever... and then they claim that they don't have enough money for repairing streets, public safety, dealing with violent criminals, and education. I mean... to me, an outsider, it really seems like all across the board the priorities are all screwed up. You want less cops and dumbed-down children and horrible roads and dangerous freaks running amuck - but you want the place to look nice and fancy and have lots of trendy upscale shopping and overpriced upscale cheaply-built housing developments! Oh, OK. Sure... let me just write that check for you! Not.

I voted. I really do like how we vote here with the mail-in ballot. Super easy. A lot of the stuff didn't make sense to me, honestly, but I read and re-read what was presented to me and voted as best I could. I don't know the people that I voted for, which is kinda scary, and some of those vote yes or no measures were kind of up in the air for me, because I could see both sides really, but I did the best I could. There were only a few measures, really, that I had strong feelings about. They were the ones relating to education and public safety.

Is there a place where you can actually see where all the money is going? To me, it just feels like we're being duped. Like we're being threatened... that if we don't vote and allow them to raise taxes that they will take our police and schools and whatnot away. Perhaps they just want more money... How do I know that the money they already have coming in to them is being spent wisely? I really don't. And honestly, it probably isn't, or is it?

It made me mad when I saw all the pretentious brou-ha-ha (sp?) that was built up for the Olympic track trials. That was money wasted. And all these trendy developments going on... Eugene is losing itself. It's being Californicated. Meanwhile crime and violence is up and families are still going around without adequate healthcare and the shelters and food pantries need help desperately.

We still have the slug queen, thank goodness!

Anyway - thanks for sharing that. I'll go check those videos out and I'm glad that I know where to go now to see that info, but honestly it all just kinda flies over my head when they talk in their politcal mumbo-jumbo talk. I need to see spreadhseets. I need to see receipts. I need to see where the money is going. That's how you can win my respect - show me the money. Show me you're on the up-and-up, and you're not pulling a Palin and spending my husbands hard-earned money on fancy clothes and tanning beds - and if you really do need more money then we'll talk!

Meanwhile - fix the dang streets and pay some more police officers. And while you're at it - help our schools! They desperately need it.
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Old 11-03-2008, 09:10 PM
 
2 posts, read 3,985 times
Reputation: 11
You can see the entire budget at lanecounty.org (bottom of the page under BUDGET) All of the meetings for the past 5 years or so, are also available online at lanecounty.org You might also want to look at "How is your property tax dollar spent?" at lanecounty.org/documents/Dollar_Bill_Graphic_2008.pdf Only 9% of our property taxes go to the county. So, even if our cities are wasting money, our county still might not have enough.

Thanks for being an informed citizen.

I can't seem to get the links to work correctly but if you go to lanecounty.org it is all there, and easy to find!

Last edited by savelanecounty; 11-03-2008 at 09:19 PM..
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Old 11-03-2008, 09:14 PM
 
6,061 posts, read 13,822,366 times
Reputation: 7100
Thank you!
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Old 09-08-2010, 05:26 AM
 
19 posts, read 53,684 times
Reputation: 18
I have lived in Lane County for a year now and I get the impression that the air is contaminated, even though the t.v. indicates the air quality is good. What about the wood products plants that spew smoke into the air daily? And what about the new biomass plant that is being built on Seneca? I have been to the Oregon Toxics Alliance a couple of times to get information but no one was in the office.

I am considering moving to southern Oregon. Does anyone know if the air is cleaner there?
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Old 09-08-2010, 11:12 AM
 
57 posts, read 155,842 times
Reputation: 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by savelanecounty View Post
To help alleviate some of this mistrust, I propose new county bi-laws be introduced, that make any future proposed decreases in funding to Public Safety and Public Schools go before the voters.
This would be a really bad public policy, because the citizens would have the right to veto budget reductions wihtout having to come up with alternative ways to balance the County budget. Having authority without responsibility is never a good thing.

The Board of County Commissioners has the legal responsibility under the state law to balance the County budget; delegating this responsibility to the citizens would violate state law and would most likely be overturned. I would also argue that the average citizen is not sufficiently informed to make these kinds of difficult budget decisions (see comments in this thread, or letters to the editor in the Register-Guard).

If you do not like how the Board of County Commissioners decides how to balance the budget, you basically have the following two options: a) elect different people to represent you on the County Commission; b) lobby the state legislature (or gather petition signatures) to overturn State Ballot Measure 50 that was passed back in 1997, which resulted in Lane County being stuck with a very low permanent tax rate and is really at the root of the County's fiscal problems.

Quote:
Originally Posted by savelanecounty View Post
In addition, I see no reason that the $7-8 million needed to fully utilize the current jail and Community Correction Center cannot be funded from the renewed SRS funds.
Hmmm, let me guess... because the SRS funds are gong away? It is not a good idea to pay for ongoing services using one-time revenues. Would you use your emergency savings account to pay your monthly mortgage? What would happen once the emergency savings run out? The County is essentially in the same predicament.

Quote:
Originally Posted by savelanecounty View Post
Perhaps the commissioners should bring a levy to the voters so that WE can decide if paying off/down these obligations is a good thing to do right now.
IIRC, local option levies can not be used for debt repayment or capital improvements in Oregon.

Quote:
Originally Posted by savelanecounty View Post
Safety should be priority number one. Everything else is optional. We don’t HAVE to run dozens of parks, libraries, an animal shelter, etc… But, we all want these things in addition to having a safe community. These things being optional can be funded secondary, much like the ‘entertainment’ section of a family budget. Public Safety and Public Schools ARE what we pay taxes for.
I would generally agree with this sentiment. I will point out, however, that Public Safety already consumes 62% of the County's General Fund budget, reserves make up 14.2%, health and welfare services make up 7.0%, and non-departmental and all other general government services make up the balance at 3.1% and 13.3%, respectively.

Note that "government services" category includes a number of services that the County is legally required to provide under the state law, such as assessment and taxation. Note also that county parks do not receive general fund support, and I am not aware of Lane County running "dozens of libraries" (or any libraries for that matter). It looks like you may be trying to find money that is simply not there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by savelanecounty View Post
Using rough figures, a new facility could cost $80 million, which if raised in property tax would be approximately $.25 per $1000 of taxable home value, or $58.75, for the average home owner ($235,000 Lane County 2007 median home price). A relatively small price to pay for the safety of our families, values of our homes, and futures of our community businesses.
No offence, but your math is way off. According to the Lane County Office of Assessment and Taxation, the median assessed value in Lane County is $142,595. Median home price has nothing to do with how property taxes are assessed. More to the point, with 2009 County-wide taxable value at $26.5 billion, $0.25 per $1,000 of taxable value would raise $6.4 million, or 12.5 times less than your estimate. When even well-informed and politically engaged citizens cannot do basic math, what can be expected of the electorate in general?

I suppose the County could put a local option levy on the ballot to fund public safety. If history is any indication, this levy will be rejected like all the other ones in the past. I will also point out that local option levies can not be imposed for a period of more than 5 years, so even if the County were to succeed in this effort, we would back to square one in five years. The only meaningful/sustainable way to deal with this is to repeal or modify Ballot Measure 50 (probably will not happen in my lifetime).
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Old 09-08-2010, 12:04 PM
 
57 posts, read 155,842 times
Reputation: 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elizabeth Farrell View Post
I have lived in Lane County for a year now and I get the impression that the air is contaminated, even though the t.v. indicates the air quality is good. What about the wood products plants that spew smoke into the air daily? And what about the new biomass plant that is being built on Seneca?
The American Lung Association maintains a web site (http://www.stateoftheair.org/2010/city-rankings/most-polluted-cities.html - broken link) that shows top 25 US cities with most polluted air in three categories: ozone pollution, year-round particle pollution and short-term particle pollution. Eugene is #21 on the short-term particle pollution list, presumably because of the occassional air inversion that occurs at the southern end of the Willamette Valley in the winter. However, it looks like local air quality has been steadily improving in recent years, probably thanks to LRAPA's efforts:




Quote:
Originally Posted by Elizabeth Farrell View Post
I have been to the Oregon Toxics Alliance a couple of times to get information but no one was in the office.
You will be better off contacting LRAPA (www.lrapa.org); they have tons of data on air quality. Note, however, that there is a lot of variation in air quality depending on where you are in the city.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elizabeth Farrell View Post
I am considering moving to southern Oregon. Does anyone know if the air is cleaner there?
Southern Oregon is a pretty big area; did you have a specific city in mind? The only place there that occasionally has worse air quality than Eugene is Medford/Ashland area.

Last edited by Olduvai2020; 09-08-2010 at 12:06 PM.. Reason: edited to correct a typo
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