EUGENE, Ore. — City leaders hashed out their budget again Thursday night, trying to figure out how to keep from slashing $5.3 million in public services.
It was another night of debating how to fund services and another night of outcry from the community. After the city fee didn’t pass in the May election pools, libraries, police and social services are threatened by closure.
“Some projects and remodels are not as necessary as preventing a family from becoming homeless,” said city councilor Greg Evans.
“Human services is about human beings our community’s most vulnerable people,” said city councilor George Poling.
“I’m not satisfied with the level of programs if they were all funded today, aquatics in particular,” said one resident.
Some advocated were for the pools, others for the police; but no matter what program residents came to fight for, all the pleas all had one common theme: don’t cut these services.
“Investing in social services saves us money down the road,” said one councilor.
It’s clear after 67 percent of citizens rejected a city fee to keep these services funded, city leaders needed to find the funding elsewhere.
The budget committee tossed a few ideas around. One recommendation, dipping into reserves for either 6 months or a year. Meaning using one time funds in order to buy more time to find a solution.
“We need to look at how we repurpose and restructure how we’re doing in delivering the services we need to deliver,” said one city councilor.
The idea of using these city savings for ongoing services didn’t sit well with everyone.
“I think it’s fiscally irresponsible and unsustainable way to run any type of a government or business,” said one resident.
Councilor Mike Clark proposed an idea of looking to fill the $5.3 million shortfall from money possibly saved in pers reform, facility reserves and a lapse funding policy. A new concept that brought much debate as to the reliability of these sources.
“We want to be smart rather than be fast,” said city councilor Chris Pryor.
After three hours of discussion, the councilors stepped on the brakes for decision making until next Wednesday. The committee must find a solution, whether temporary or permanent, to keep the services in jeopardy intact and their citizens happy.
The committee will meet Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday next week. There will be a public hearing and a final recommendation to the council on Wednesday.