EUGENE, Ore. (KMTR) – Preparation has begun for the city of Eugene’s next big budget cycle as the city’s budget committee is taking its first steps now in what will likely be another revenue shortfall year.
“After year, after year, after year of sustaining cuts, I think we're really going to have to look at staffing and beginning to reduce staff,” says Chris Pryor, a Eugene City Councilor.
Eugene City Council held its annual first work session / workshop with the city’s Budget Committee on Saturday morning, February 11th, 2012, at Eugene City Hall. The meeting is one of the first steps in preparing for the 2013 fiscal year.
In short, Eugene City Manager Jon Ruiz and his staff say the city’s 2013 fiscal year budget will likely bring employee layoffs and impacts on the level of city services.
The city is now preparing for an estimated 7 million dollar shortfall, but the plan is to make those cuts over a two year period. Over the last several years, the city has dealt with more than 20 million dollars in budget cuts and the loss of 80 positions.
Councilors, budget committee staff and city staff met for about 3 hours on Saturday morning, reviewing preliminary estimates and discussing the current city revenue situation.
While the City Manager’s office says the latest budget will likely mean city employee layoffs and an impact on city services, Ruiz told the group Saturday that he isn’t ready to name specific services or departments that may be affected with cuts or layoffs.
Ultimately, it will be up to the Eugene City Council and the city’s Budget Committee to make the final say on what cuts will happen, or if the city will make cuts at all. The City Manager’s office is planning to recommend a list of cuts in the coming weeks and months.
While the story of “cuts” is the same situation that Eugene and other municipalities have dealt with over the last few years, the city is taking a different approach this year to addressing the 2013 fiscal year.
On February 22nd, 2012, Ruiz will outline his ideas about cuts in “budget strategy” public meeting. No formal proposals will be made at the meeting though.
In years past, the city manager’s office has spent several months developing a “draft budget,” then trying to figure out what cuts and changes to make to that budget.
The idea this year is to create more dialogue with councilors and budget committee members before preparing the draft budget.
“There will be a lot of information early for the citizens, a lot of opportunities for citizen input along the way. Even though its not a traditional proposed budget, it's more of a strategy discussion, but there will be a lot of opportunity for citizens to come and give input as we're rolling out these strategies much earlier than we have in the past,” says Kristie Hammit, the Central Services Director for the city of Eugene.
Most of the city councilors at Saturday’s meeting expressed gratitude for the new style of budgeting, claiming it will help them figure out which road to take when it comes to making cuts.
“I'm real optimistic in where we're going to go with the budget. Not optimistic in terms of what is going to be financially the story that we hear, but I'm optimistic about the process that we go through so that when it does come time to make those difficult decisions, we can be comfortable that we did it in the most thoughtful and the most deliberate way,” says Chris Pryor, a Eugene City Councilor.
At this point, City Manager Jon Ruiz is hoping to eliminate the 7 million dollar budget gap over the next two years.
The next budget related public hearing, the “City Manager’s FY2013 Budget Strategy,” will be held on February 22nd, 2012 in the Bascom-Tykeson Room at the Eugene Public Library from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.