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Keeping in touch: Notes from the Mayor

Mayor Lucy VinisThis blog aims to nurture our conversation and understanding of the issues before us. Every week, I will provide a weekly update on the activities in the city government, my activities as mayor, and brief reflections on progress, opportunities and challenges. You are invited to respond with reactions, insights and questions. We do this work together.

Jul 05

Weekly Recap - July 5, 2019

Posted on July 5, 2019 at 4:19 PM by Elena Domingo

I have been silent for a couple of weeks and not able to attend council meetings...  

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Jun 14

Weekly Recap - June 14, 2019

Posted on June 14, 2019 at 5:29 PM by Elena Domingo

The headline for this week is council’s approval of an ordinance to create a payroll tax to support enhanced community safety services.  Based on community response at the public form, online submissions and in conversations in the community, the final ordinance included an exemption for all minimum wage workers; and a reduced payroll tax to 0.03% for workers who earn between $12-15/hour.  All other workers will pay a slightly increased tax to compensate for the revenue lost by those exemptions, 0.044%. The employer rate was held at 0.02%.

The new ordinance also requires a public vote after seven years to approve continuation of the tax; as well as a report regarding the financial impacts of the tax on businesses.  In a second vote, council also approved sending to the November ballot a charter amendment that would constrain future councils from raising the tax rate and from diverting funds from the tax to a purpose other than community safety.

I recognize that some in the community object to a payroll tax in principle.  I appreciate that concern.  Too many in our community struggle to make ends meet, and now, if they may make above minimum wage, they are subject to another tax.  At the same time, it is important to remember that  the amount of the tax is very small.  It is designed to be broad and shallow.  It is able to be a small tax because so many people will pay into it.  While most agree we need better community safety services, no one has come forward with an alternative revenue proposal that comes anywhere close to raising this amount of funds with such a small request to taxpayers.

The premise is that public safety, like roads, is something we all need and from which we all benefit.  When public safety systems are inadequate, as they have been in Eugene for decades, we all suffer.  How many of you have experienced a property crime and been told by the police they will be slow to arrive or not come at all?  How many have complained of people who run red lights with impunity because no officer is available to stop and issue a ticket? How many have complained about disruptive or threatening behavior in your neighborhood for which there was no timely police response?  Our new police chief is committed to addressing these livability crimes with the revenues from this tax.  The results will be measurable and will be reported as increased service calls and reduced time for police response.

Unanswered complaints about public safety impact our entire metropolitan area – Springfield residents who work in Eugene are just as vulnerable in the city limits as are Eugene residents.  And they share with Eugene the 911 services and Fire Department that will be expanded with this new revenue stream.

Finally, this proposal has been criticized both for providing too little support for homeless services and for providing too much.  The community safety ordinance is approved in tandem with our initiative to enhance and expand our homeless services as recommended in the TAC report.  The two efforts are significant and complementary; and they  rely on different funding streams. Both are accountable to you, the voters.  And both will change our community for the better in the coming years.


Jun 07

Weekly Recap - June 7, 2019

Posted on June 7, 2019 at 3:35 PM by Elena Domingo

It was a quiet week for council which doesn’t meet on the first week of the month.  

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May 31

Weekly Recap- May 31, 2019

Posted on May 31, 2019 at 2:46 PM by Nicole Bernstein

Council held back-to-back meetings this week on Tuesday night and Wednesday due to Memorial Day on Monday. The headline news of the week was the public hearing regarding the proposed payroll tax to fund our network of Community Safety services.

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May 24

Weekly Recap- May 24, 2019

Posted on May 24, 2019 at 3:31 PM by Nicole Bernstein

Three major concerns were addressed by council this week, with another significant issue on deck for Tuesday, the 28th.

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May 17

Weekly Recap-May 17, 2019

Posted on May 17, 2019 at 3:53 PM by Nicole Bernstein

A very busy week began with a joint meeting of the City Council and County Board to hear about the proposed framework for implementing the 10 recommendations of the TAC report to improve shelter and service delivery to stabilize people who are homeless.

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May 13

Weekly Recap- May 12, 2019

Posted on May 13, 2019 at 9:15 AM by Nicole Bernstein

Council met once last week on Wednesday and devoted the entire meeting to a discussion of the revised proposal to fund community safety.

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