Community Safety System Long-term Funding
What is the plan?
The total needed for longer-term system stability is approximately $22.8 million per year, which includes the $8.6 million bridge.
Examples of how these funds will enable us to better respond, prevent and resolve community safety issues include:
Faster, More Efficient Response
- More 911 dispatchers and officers to respond to calls
- A 911 field medical triage using smaller Community Response Units to respond to situations that aren’t life-threatening
- More Community Service Officers (CSOs) that provide public safety support and assist with non-emergency calls, freeing patrol officers’ time for proactive, community policing
Deter Crime – Connect People to Services – Engage Kids Early
- A 10-person Street Crimes Unit to proactively deter crimes
- Increased officer presence in neighborhoods allowing more time for problem-solving and traffic patrols
- Homeless services that help people stabilize and improve their lives by increasing collaboration with social service and medical organizations
- Expanded youth programs to engage and help at-risk youth, including after-school programs, 15th Night and inclusion programs
More Investigations – More Court Services – More Accountability
- More detectives to investigate more crimes
- Opening a third court room to reduce the backlog of cases and resolve cases more quickly, and staffing with the needed prosecutors, court appointed attorneys and court staff
- More jail beds and probation officers to reduce capacity-based releases and hold those who commit crimes accountable
How will the funds be spent?
- Approximately 65% of the funding will go toward police services including: 40 patrol officers, 5 detectives, 4 sergeants, 10 community service officers, 9.5 staff for 911, animal welfare and traffic safety officers, and evidence control and forensic analysts.
- Approximately 10% will go to fire and emergency medical services including the creation of a 911 triage program and field triage/community response unit.
- Approximately 15% will go to Municipal Court services including opening third courtroom with staffing, expanding community court and mental health court programs and adding 10 jail beds and increased jail services.
- Approximately 10% will go toward prevention and homelessness services including adding emergency shelters, a day center and funding after school programs at Title 1 schools
A Community Safety Revenue Team was formed to develop a funding recommendation for the City Manager.
The team was responsible for identifying, evaluating and developing revenue funding strategies to support the needs of the Community Safety System.
Revenue Team Recommends Hybrid Payroll Tax
The Community Safety Revenue Team recommends implementing a payroll tax to provide funding to support $22.8 million in community safety services on an annual basis with an option to be phased in over a six year time frame.
A payroll tax is levied as a percent of gross payroll earned within the taxing jurisdiction. Entities can enact a payroll tax on employees and/or on employers and if enacted on both groups the tax would be treated as two separate payroll taxes. The Revenue Team recommends developing a “hybrid” approach of a tax on both employees and employers which could either be a flat percentage for both taxes or structured at different tiers for each tax to achieve the desired revenue yield.
The Revenue Team recognizes that this doesn’t impact every segment of the population as this tax would not capture revenue from visitors, potentially city residents employed elsewhere (based upon structure), retirees and the unemployed, however, the Revenue Team generally thought that this approach was the clearest and most fair of the final options considered.
From Eugene City Manager Jon Ruiz
The Community Safety Revenue Team’s recommendation is to provide sustainable, reliable and fair funding through a modest Council-implemented employer and employee payroll tax.
The community believes the problem is significant and urgent, as expressed in their response to Gary Manross’ Summer 2018 survey, a subsequent online survey of over 2,400 people, and at dozens of presentations by Eugene Police Chief Skinner and Eugene Springfield Fire Chief Zaludek.
In the Manross survey, respondents’ top three priorities for spending tax dollars were:
- Addressing homelessness
- Increasing the number of sworn police officers
- Enhancing police services
If we do nothing different, we will fail to meet community safety needs for hundreds of our friends, family members, and neighbors. Response times will continue to increase, more calls will go unanswered or not responded to, fewer people in the community justice system will have opportunities to stabilize their life, and overall system capacity will continue to diminish.
The approach we are using to solve this problem is reasonable, sensible and responsible. We address the problem as a system, using an evidence-based approach with a focus on what works. We incorporate 21st Century Policing philosophies and principles, and best practices from other jurisdictions across the country. Input from key stakeholders and the broader community has been paramount. The components of Community Safety (Police, fire, 911, municipal court, homelessness, and related social services) are intertwined and must be viewed together. Adding capacity to one component must account for the subsequently increased needs in the other components.
We know that taxes of any kind impact families, but investment in the community safety system comes with a cost. Knowing this, we have listened to the community through surveys, meetings, conversations, committees and one-on-one discussions. We worked hard to maximize the use of existing resources and only included items that address the problems.
We also know that the impact of doing nothing, and failing to address the ongoing resource limitations of our community safety system will have an increasingly negative effect on the community and those we serve. The community safety needs are urgent, and working with the community, we are finding ways to support our shared safety values.
The Community Safety Revenue Team is comprised of the following members:
- Councilor Emily Semple (Ward 1)
- Councilor Jennifer Yeh (Ward 4)
- Councilor Chris Pryor (Ward 8)
- Scott Nowicki (Budget Committee Chair)
- Eliza Kashinsky (Budget Committee member)
- Bill Whalen (Police Commission Chair)
- John Barofsky (former Budget Committee Chair)
- Laura Illig (former Budget Committee Chair)
- Why is a payroll tax being considered?
- What is a payroll tax?
- Why do the City’s community safety services need more funding?
- Where does Community Safety funding come from now?
- Who would contribute to the proposed payroll tax?
- How much would it cost?
- Will I get to vote for the payroll tax?
- Why is the City looking at this strategy instead of another funding option?
- Why isn’t money from the marijuana tax, or other taxes, being used instead of a payroll tax?
- What do I get for my money?
- If implemented, how long will it take for the tax to go into effect?
- How will the City be held accountable with money earned from the payroll tax?
- Does Oregon have a payroll tax?