Council is on a two-week spring break; we’ll return for our first council meeting on April 8th.
On the 8th, our work session will continue discussion of the proposed payroll tax to provide sustainable, long-term funding for the array of programs under the Community Safety umbrella. Council is clear about the importance of permanent funding to continue and expand the increased staffing for police, community court, youth and homeless services that have been initiated with the 18-month bridge funding of $8.6 million. There are questions about how the tax could be phased in, whether it will unduly impact minimum wage workers, and whether council will decide this administratively or put it on the ballot in November. A November vote would create another funding gap because if approved, we wouldn’t be able to implement the tax before the 18-month gap funding expires. And if it is not approved, the newly expanded services would collapse.
We will also vote on Monday night on the proposed Construction Excise Tax. This is another critical decision to create a sustainable funding stream to incentivize the construction of affordable housing. I feel strongly that we must pass this tax in some form, and use the requirement for a review after two years to amend it if necessary.
On another note, I left town to visit family in NY on the morning of the shootings at two mosques in New Zealand. Today I took the time to attend prayer services at the Islamic Center where the congregation expressed their deep appreciation for all of you who wrote cards, left flowers and attended prayers last week in support of our Muslim colleagues, friends and neighbors in Eugene. Thank you.
And finally, I recognize that some of you are frustrated by my inability to reply to your many comments on my Facebook postings. I apologize. With the exception of this blog, my page is managed by volunteers. I have not been able to figure out how to find enough hours in the day to respond to comments and I encourage you to send me an email if you need a reply. I am grateful for your concern for the health and well-being of our community, and for reaching out to me with your thoughts and insights.