It was a diverse crowd as folks came to voice their opinions.
While there were a number of points of concern, one issue took center stage: the potential closing of the Bethel and Sheldon branch libraries. The budget committee is currently looking for ways to cut $3 million from next year’s budget.
There are six options on the table.
One would cut two percent to all agencies across the board, while the other five would close the Sheldon and Bethel branch libraries.
“This is my son Josh and he has autism. The Bethel Library is important to us because we can’t go to the downtown library due to my son’s sensory issues and need for routine,” said mother Lauren Yorgesen.
“Getting to the downtown library it is just very difficult for us whether it’s coming by bus or or driving around in this area even in the daylight,” said Eugene resident Sabine Dutoit.
“Literacy is not an option. That’s why closing the libraries, the branch libraries, is also not an option,” said Ann Burgess, Bethel teacher.
Mothers, seniors and teachers all stood united, and so did some students.
“The libraries at my school could never supply me with the new books I wanted and often limited my checkouts to only two items as my friend Sarah mentioned. The Bethel Branch was my saving grace and allowed me to check out stacks of books,” said student Avery Cottle.
“Nearly every weekend my family would take the short walk to the library and spend an hour or two reading together. The close proximity of the library to our house made this a simple task,” said student Sarah Finley.
And some familiar faces in government took a stand as well for those who are getting by on a limited income.
“These are people, seniors, mostly single women, mostly people on fixed income who utilize the library, who utilize the internet services if they’re looking for jobs. The fact is, this is an essential service,” said House Majority Leader Val Hoyle, (D) – Eugene.
“Cutting services is entirely unnecessary. The alleged budget gap is is a figment created by moving numbers around,” said Bonny McCornack, former City of Eugene Councilor.
Whatever their reason for being at the public hearing, this won’t be the last opportunity for the community to voice their opinions.
The next public hearing is set for Tuesday, at 5:30 p.m. in the downtown library.
After these hearings in January, the city manager will come up with a proposed budget. The public will have a chance to weigh in again in the spring.