There were two dominant themes this week: budget and transportation.
At Wednesday’s Budget Committee meeting, the City Councilors and eight citizen committee members discussed possible uses for the $18 million Comcast settlement. Most committee members supported the City Manager’s proposal to direct $9.5 million to the reserve fund to help the City weather expected shortfalls in the coming years, due largely to anticipated Oregon Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) increases. The remaining funds could potentially cover some of the City Hall construction expenses (to spare the City from needing loans to cover those costs), support sheltering options for our community’s homeless, and/or support the Fire Department’s need for more ambulance services.
Another discussion that took place at the Budget Committee meeting surrounded potential funding for a second Basic Life Service (BLS) ambulance. Fire Chief Joe Zaludek provided an overview presentation that highlighted the potential efficiencies and improved services that could be gained by funding a second BLS ambulance. The BLS ambulances provide an appropriate level of service for patients who are not facing life-threatening crises. These ambulances are less expensive than Advanced Life Support (ALS) ambulances and would ensure that the more robust medical support of an ALS ambulance is available for patients with life-threatening needs.
The Budget Committee will hold three more meetings in May before referring their recommendations to council who approve the final budget.
I also attended two meetings about transportation this week, which is fitting, because May is Bike Month! You can find a range of events and activities this month on the We Bike Eugene website. One of the meetings I attended was the Lane Transit District (LTD) Planning Steering Committee meeting that includes elected officials, the LTD Board of Directors, and citizen members. The Steering Committee reviews and recommends policies to the LTD Board of Directors, and this meeting’s discussion focused on Eugene’s Bike Share program, which is scheduled to launch in September. The Bike Share program will provide short-term bike rentals that connect different parts of the City, including the University of Oregon, downtown, and Whitaker neighborhoods.
Finally, today, I had the honor of congratulating the latest graduates of Lane County’s Drug Treatment program. Two of the graduates had been homeless men on our streets. Thanks to their courage and persistence, to the nonprofit Emergence treatment center, the Sheriff’s office, and Judge Rooke-Ley and her team, the graduates are clean, sober, housed, employed, and reconnected with their families.