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Commissioners Debate Public Safety Tax

EUGENE, Ore. — The Lane County Board of Commissioners will not put a proposed property tax levy on the November ballot, even though a survey suggested it should.

In a lengthy three-hour meeting, commissioners heard from the Public Safety Executive Committee and a research company they hired about how voters would feel about a moderate property tax levy.

Many say the results were positive, but time quickly stood in the way Wednesday.

Commissioners were all ears when CEO of the Strategy Research Institute, Dr. Gary Manross, revealed what voters thought of a possible public safety tax. SRI polled 400 voters from Eugene, Springfield and Lane County. Using a series of questions, Manross found about 59 percent would approve a 50-cent increase in property taxes.

“Lots of discussion lots of up and downs, it was painful at times because of the urgent need for public safety,” said Tom Turner, Lane County Sheriff.

Because of the feedback, Manross recommended getting a tax measure on the November ballot. If that were to happen, commissioners would have had to schedule an emergency meeting to work out all ballot language.

After three hours and much debate, commissioners decided they did not have enough internal support to rush the tax to the November ballot.

“This problem’s not gonna get fixed unless we find some revenue and assure the citizens that what we’re doing is what we’re doing and that we can provide the services they need,” said Faye Stewart, Lane County Commissioner.

That means any decision by voters on the funding of public safety will have to wait until at least May, if ever.

Commissioner Stewart says the information provided–$30,000 worth–will be extremely valuable in future decisions.

There were indications that a measure could be on the ballot come May. If passed this year, the revenue wouldn’t flow until November 2013.

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