Community Safety System Payroll Tax

The Community Safety System

The Community Safety System includes police, fire, 911, municipal court, prevention and social services, which are interdependent and work together. This system has been under growing stress and the needs of the community have outpaced the capacity.

The Community Safety System is made up of an interdependent group of City department and community partners

A System Under Stress

  • From 2014-17, 911 calls for Eugene Police increased 21% while police and 911 staffing remained flat.
  • From 2014-17, homicide, rape, robbery, assault, sex offenses, and family offenses increased by 18%.
  • Police are unable to respond to 1 out of 3 calls due to lack of patrol resources (when there is no immediate threat to life).
  • It takes officers an average of 20 more minutes to respond to these calls for service.
  • Response times for life threatening emergencies (cardiac arrest, stroke, trauma, breathing) have also increased because more people experiencing chronic conditions call EMS due to the fact that they don’t have any other options.
  • One courtroom of three is unused due to lack of staff.
  • The number of youth diagnosed with mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety continues to rise.

While many creative programs have been applied to this problem to maximize resources and meet community needs, the growing demand continues to outpace capacity.

Bridge Funds Provide Support Through June 2020

Eugene City Council in December 2018 approved a one-time, 18-month funding strategy for $8.6 million. This bridge funding supports prevention efforts and services for youth and people experiencing homelessness, as well as police and emergency response services through June 2020.

Payroll Tax to Offer Longer-term Solution

At their June 10, 2019 Work Session, City Council passed a payroll tax ordinance to provide long-term funding after the bridge funding expires on June 30, 2020. The Community Safety Payroll Tax is expected to generate $23.6 million annually to provide faster, more efficient safety responses, deter crime, connect people to services, engage and help at-risk youth, support more investigations and court services, and add jail beds to reduce capacity-based releases and hold those who commit crimes accountable.

The Community Safety Payroll Tax Ordinance was based on the recommendation of a Revenue Team of community members and Councilors that was established in November 2018. This team reviewed a wide range of funding options that could provide on-going support for community prevention, response and resolution services. 

  1. Accountability Requirements
  2. Funding Highlights

The measure passed by Council includes critical accountability requirements to ensure the funding is used as directed including:

  • Lock Box (separate fund): Funds collected through the payroll tax will be “lock boxed” in a separate fund that is easily identifiable by members of the public, established to track the receipt and use of these funds. 
  • Annual Performance Review: Specific performance measures have been included in the ordinance and additional measures will be established, tracked, and reported on annually. Some of these measures include:
    • Reducing the number of calls for service with no response
    • Reducing the number of minutes to respond to non-emergency requests for service
    • Increasing the number of minutes per hour officers are available for community policing
  • Outside Annual Audit: An outside auditor will review and document the City’s use of the tax funds to determine whether the tax funds proceeds were used in compliance with the terms of the ordinance and how the specific performance measures are being accomplished through use of the payroll tax funds.
  • Citizen Advisory Board: The City Manager will convene a Citizen Advisory Board which will prepare an annual report and conduct a comprehensive seven-year review.
  • 7-Year Public Vote:  After seven years, the public will vote on whether continue the payroll tax. 
  • Charter Amendment: Voters approved an amendment that caps the rates and limits use to community safety.
  • The purpose of the payroll tax is to raise additional revenue to be able to increase community safety services beyond what the City was able to fund in FY18 (before the $8.6 million “bridge” funding). The ordinance ensures that revenue from the payroll tax will supplement, not replace, existing community safety funding.