EUGENE, Ore. (KMTR) -- The City of Eugene is preparing for another big budget gap as what was projected to be about $3 million in cuts for the next fiscal year has now doubled.
The Eugene City Manager’s office told councilors on Monday that the city is now facing a $6 million budget gap for fiscal year 2014 which begins in July 1, 2012.
Over the last five fiscal years, the city has cut $24 million from its budget or about 20 percent. Those changes have resulted in the reduction of about 100 full-time employees, most through attrition (not filling vacant positions) but also through some layoffs.
Even with those deep cuts, most of the service that the city offers haven’t changed. For the most part, city officials say the cuts have mostly resulted in reorganizing the structure of the city government’s jobs.
However, city officials say this $6 million budget gap could very well be the turning point. City Manager Jon Ruiz says his office has pretty much cut everything it can without affecting services. Ruiz is projecting either deep cuts in this next budget unless some kind of new city tax is passed by voters.
In the last budget session, city officials discussed the idea of several new taxes: a restaurant tax, payroll tax, utility tax, personal or corporate income tax, a monthly city fee or local sales tax. Eugene City Council will begin discussing these ideas again in December.
"Property taxes really haven't been coming in high or the growth rate hasn't been as good as it has been in the past years,” says Sue Cutsogeorge, Finance Manager for the City of Eugene.
“The City Manager has said he will prepare two budgets: one . . . that shows what we would do if we didn't have new revenues and one if we did have new revenues,” says Cutsogeorge.
Eugene City Council will pick up the tax talk again in a meeting on December 10.
If a new tax doesn’t happen, some huge cuts are likely on the way for Eugene. Some savings ideas include closing a city pool for $400,000 to $500,000, cutting the city’s HAZMAT team for $200,000, reducing EPD’s community service officers for about $85,000 to $185,000 in savings or even eliminating some of the funding for the 25 jail beds the City of Eugene pays for at the Lane County Jail, which could save about $350,000. All of those cuts were proposed as possible ideas in the FY2013 budget; however, none were approved.
Last year, the city cut Bethel and Sheldon’s Library branch hours from about 56 hours over six days a week to 26 hours over five days a week. Another possible idea is to close the downtown Eugene library one day a week, which would save about $450,000.
City councilors and budget committee members will likely begin the detailed work on the budget in February 2013.