The first week of the month without Council meetings to be a time for conversations about the work ahead. This week was also noteworthy for the City’s series of funding requests from the State and Federal governments.
On the first front, our conversations focused on the significant issues coming to Council in May. On Monday, we’ll review and discuss the results of focus group conversations and survey results related to the Community Safety Initiative (CSI). As you recall, Council passed this initiative and the dedicated payroll tax to invest in improvements and expansions to our network of services. The largest percent, however, is directed toward staffing in the Police Department. In response to last summer’s protests, we committed to reviewing the allocations within this fund through focus groups of BIPOC members of the community, as well as two broader community surveys. It is important to understand that while there is latitude within the fund to shift allocations, it is separate from the General Fund and allocations cannot be adjusted between the two. CAHOOTS, for example, is budgeted within the General Fund; expanded investments in youth services are included in the CSI. These different funds are hard to track; and understanding our options is made more difficult this year when we are cutting General Fund programs because of the recession, but also expecting to receive federal and state funds that may restore and expand some services. For the policy wonks among you, I encourage you to read the FY22 proposed budget document. The narrative explains this very clearly. It is surprisingly readable!
That brings me to the other aspect of my week. The City has made several specific requests for funding from both the State and Federal Governments.
We have requested $3.5 million from American Rescue Plan funds to support land acquisition. This follows on Council’s vote last week to authorize the Manager to lease or purchase land that could be used as safe tent and vehicle sites for people who are unsheltered. We are requesting $5 million from State lottery bond funding to complete the Riverfront Park; And our request for $1.5 million to build a pedestrian/bike bridge over the Beltline at River Road is one of the projects Congressman DeFazio has included in his list of local infrastructure projects.
On a broader scale, I have joined Mayors and CEOs for US Housing Investment in signing a letter to Congress urging significant investment in affordable housing as part of the Infrastructure package.
Thursday, May 6th, was “Infrastructure Day” and I added a photo of myself standing next to Franklin Boulevard to the social media blitz. Eugene, Springfield, Lane County and Lane Transit District are united in our pursuit of federal support to complete the transformation of that former state highway into a corridor that is safe, efficient, and pleasant for walkers, bikers, and users of transit, as well as cars.
Finally, I am sure many of you share my relief that we have moved back to “High Risk” from “Extreme” in our COVID status. Thank you for your continuing diligence in wearing masks, maintaining distance, and keeping your gatherings small. I am concerned about University students who gathered in large numbers without masks last weekend and will join President Schill in calling on students to do their part to end the pandemic.
I hope you find ample opportunity to safely enjoy Mother’s Day weekend and to support our local businesses.