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City Club Debates Eugene Fee

EUGENE, Ore. — The hotly contested vote over a city service fee in Eugene is just weeks away.

On Friday, both sides of the issue debated the idea.

If the measure passes, Eugene residents will pay $10 a month per household, and businesses will pay $30 a month for each business location in the city to fund parks, recreation and law enforcement.

Supporters of the measure say it’s necessary because the city has a major budget deficit, but opponents say this shortfall doesn’t exist.

The city fee would be used to fund pools, parks, and public safety services like fire stations and police. Even opponents to the fee increase say these services are necessary in town.

“Like many of you, I care very much about what happens to the services on the city’s cut list,” said Bonny Bettman, former Eugene City Councilor.

And supporters say Sheldon Pool, that’s on the cut list, would be closed without the service increase.

“We have fewer opportunities for aquatic exercise, aquatic sports, family recreation, in specific terms we lose swim lessons,” said George Brown, Eugene City Councilor. “Parks are essential to the quality of life we have.”

Those against the fee increase say citizens shouldn’t have to pay for any mismanaged money and there’s no guarantee if the fee passes the parks and pools would be safe.

“Voting yes does not guarantee funding for the specific threatened services beyond fiscal year 2014,” Bettman said.

Supporters say it’s not the most ideal situation, but stressed the fee is very important to keep these parks afloat.

“While it’s not a perfect solution, it’s the best one we have in front of us that’ll solve the problem,” said Alan Zelenka, Eugene City Councilor.

Opponents say the money doesn’t need to come from taxpayers because the city already has enough to fund these services.

“The money’s there to preserve the services, and it is the council who has the ultimate authority to approve the budget and the sole responsibility to prioritize and fund essential services,” Bettman said.

And while those against the measure say the city could take the money and spend it on anything. Supporters say that’s not entirely true.

“The fee cannot be spent on anything but the specific list of services,” Zelenka said.

If voters approve the fee, the $10 and $30 amounts are the maximum the city could charge citizens.

2 comments

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  1. Vote No on City fee says:

    Councilor Zelenka is wrong to state, “The fee cannot be spent on anything but the specific list of services.” The ordinance does not say that.

    The proposed Ordinance does not define “core quality of life services”, which leaves it open to broad interpretation by city management. It can mean whatever City Hall wants it to mean, including but not limited to: Building a new city hall; Increasing salaries and subsidies for developers; Spending millions on Planning and Development Department studies that are destined to become dust collectors.

    The fee and the ordinance are flawed in many ways, including the complete lack of criteria for low income, and highly suspect and doubtful five year supposed sunset. This preposed fee is becoming known as the “forever” fee. Vote No on measure 20-211!

  2. ahshucks says:

    Sorry about that. Lane County, Eugene 4 J schools and City service fee’s are going down. You people don’t get it. We are done with Democrats spending. Spending is out of hand and you need to stop using fear as a way to pass levies, taxes and fee’s. You need to budget and spend within your budget like us common folks do.

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