EUGENE, Ore. (KMTR) -- Lane County Commissioners are moving forward with another public poll to find out if there's enough support to pass a public safety funding measure.
Commissioners approved spending their entire $20,000 discretionary budget on Tuesday, December 4, in order to re-survey Lane County voters on a public safety tax. Commissioners say they want a second poll because public support for the measure may have changed following the election and the latest round of jail releases.
The second poll will be done by Strategy Research Institute (SRI), the same company that did the first one last July.
In the first poll, SRI found that 60 percent of Lane County voters would support a 50-cent property tax levy to raise money for just the Lane County Jail. SRI recommended that the Board of Commissioners try to put that tax measure on the November 2012 ballot, however, commissioners declined. You can read NewsSource 16’s story on the poll here: http://www.kmtr.com/news/local/story/Poll-Lane-County-voters-would-support-50-cent/egK4-OsUTkC3ORrGQjoeZg.cspx
In the November 2012 election, Eugene’s voters passed another five-year road repair bond, charging citizens 65 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. That’s up two cents from the first road repair bond passed in 2008. Read NewsSourcde 16’s story on the bond at: http://www.kmtr.com/news/local/story/Eugenes-second-road-bond-to-focus-on-more/WJ3bXws5l0yVHlzLfMCYNw.cspx
Springfield voters also passed a five-year public safety tax levy costing property owners $1.28 per $1,000 of assessed property value. That’s up from the previous tax levy costing $1.09 per $1,000 of assessed property value.
Chair of the Board of County Commissioners Sid Leiken said in a meeting Tuesday that he isn’t sure that there is enough voter support in Springfield to pass a countywide public safety property tax levy on top of the city’s public safety tax levy.
Commissioners decided on the second public safety tax levy poll because they wanted to be sure that Springfield voters will support a countywide public safety levy as well.
According to Leiken, about 65 percent of Lane County’s population lives in the Eugene / Springfield city limits. Without their support, Leiken says a countywide property tax levy will fail.
"In 2006, the city (Springfield) did support both (city and county measures). It was very, very close on both, but again, I ask people to take a look at what the economy looked like in 2006 compared to what the economy looks like today and I think people's attitudes are a little bit different,” says Sid Leiken, chair of the Lane County Board of Commissioners.
About seven people showed up for public comment in Tuesday’s meeting as well to express their frustration about the public safety situation, many angry to see 31 inmates recently release from the Lane County Jail with the closure of the jail’s intake wing.
Two of the men who were released were re-arrested less than 24 hours after their release, including 33-year old Christopher Weaver who’s accused of robbing a bank less than an hour after being let out.
“I don't know why you folks want the Sheriff's Office to fail, but that's obviously what you want because you won't fund it the way it should be funded,” says Cheryl Smith, an Oakridge resident.
“Doesn't seem like anybody's doing anything except for sitting around and having a few meetings here and there and talking about it. We've got to do incremental steps. We've gotta figure out something to do right now,” said Steve Sieczkowski, a member of the Citizens for a Safer Lane County political action committee.
The second poll should arrive by mid-January. The poll will measure how much support there is for a funding measure, what a potential tax rate might be, what the measure would fund and how long it would last, likely around five years.
After poll results come in, commissioners are planning two evening public hearings for the potential measure on January 29 and February 5, 2013. Shortly after, commissioners will make a decision about whether to put the funding measure on the May 2013 ballot.