EUGENE, Ore. — With a nearly two-to-one vote against Eugene’s service fee, city leaders say they heard voters loud and clear. With no plan B, the city says it’s back to the drawing board.
It was a tough night and morning for all the folks who supported the fee, especially for those back on the chopping block.
While the news of the failure stung, the future remains uncertain and the real pain is yet to come for police, fire, library and pool services.
“Most of the things that are on this current list we have been talking about for years,” said Jon Ruiz, Eugene City Manager.
While that may be true, those who could be affected say it doesn’t make the cuts any easier.
“If the fee had passed, it would have preserved library services…so a yes vote would have been very reassuring to come in and talk to staff about,” said Connie Bennett, Director of Library Services.
But voters didn’t give the fee a yes, rather a resounding no.
“I think the message for me that I heard loud and clear was that the public prefers we balance the budget by making cuts and not trying to find additional revenue,” said Chris Pryor, Eugene City Councilor.
And it looks like that’s what the next step is–up to $6 million worth of cuts.
“I’ll make a presentation. I’ll propose a variety of things in the budget. The budget committee will have a conversation about that. They’ll choose to make recommendations on the total budget. It may look the same or different, and ultimately the city council will make a decision,” Ruiz said.
So while the fee’s failure is definitive, the cuts aren’t quite as clear just yet. For now, the people on the chopping block can only hope the financial picture will change in their favor, encouraging citizens to make their voices heard during the upcoming budget process.
“If people have things they want to share with the budget committee or their city councilors, it’s always a good opportunity because the council is very responsive to what the community wants,” Bennett said.