EUGENE, Ore. –The city says after watching its footprint closely by cutting spending and city jobs, it still needs help meeting next years budget.
The city got rid of 100 positions in the last four years; but starting in July, another $6 million budget gap in the general fund awaits them. Now it’s looking at fees to help fill the shortfall.
“For the last four years we’ve been working to drive down our costs which we’ve done by 20 percent, which is pretty significant,” said John Ruiz, City Manager.
But not significant enough to avoid a $6 million budget gap in the upcoming general fund budget.
“We need to increase our tax base by $250,000 to $500,000 over the next many years,” said Ruiz.
For the near future, Ruiz says there needs to be an immediate fix, which may include new fee’s for Eugene residents.
“Transition our parks operations costs over to our storm water fund,” said
That move would allow the city to use storm water fees to help maintain the parks, instead of taking money from the general fund; in turn, leaving money for services that the public says they want to keep.
“Public safety, services for job creation and economic development, or social services like services to the homeless,” said Ruiz.
The other option, a monthly city service fee up to $10 a month, which would be put to a public vote. According to a survey by the city, it supports is where it needs to be. Councilors will have to decide by February if they want the fee on the May ballot.
“Our staff are very conscious and understanding of the financial situations that so many in our community face right now. Now we have to make a decision of a community, do we want to maintain these services or not?” said Ruiz.
The Eugene City Council will talk about the fee options more in January. There will be upcoming public hearings once discussion gets a bit further.