Lane County Budget Committee looks to deliberate and finalize 2012 - 2013 budget
EUGENE, Ore. (KMTR) -- Lane County’s next budget could be approved as early as May 17, 2012, with a second meeting of the Budget Committee. However, many of the proposed cuts are still up for debate.The Lane County Budget Committee has now heard presentations from all county departments how each is planning to deal with their share of the across-the-board cuts. The committee is in the process of finalizing things for fiscal year 2012 - 2013. Thursday, May 17, 2012, the Budget Committee meets again and could vote on the proposed plan. If the proposed budget passes, it moves to the Lane County Board of Commissioners for approval.According to committee members, they are down to dealing with reductions of mandatory services. Dennis Hijmans is Vice Chair of the Lane County Budget Committee. He says making the reduced budget work is a balancing act, as county staff looks at switching money around from one department to the next in order to save some services.However, Hijmans says with the current funding level, there's virtually no extra place to make reductions without dealing a major blow to or total elimination of another service.“A lot of the services that Lane County provides are package deals - it’s like the game Jenga where if you pull out too many pieces, the department or that area collapses,” says Hijmans.“You want to look at what do the winners win and what do they stand to gain and what do the losers lose. Do the winners need that win? And can the losers afford that loss?” Hijmans hypothesized.Some of the most talked-about cuts include a 131 jail bed reduction in the Lane County Jail and an eight-bed reduction for juvenile detention. The Sheriff’s Office is also looking at cutting down to just six patrol deputies; the Medical Examiners Office could be totally eliminated and Animal Control services could be contracted out. Other departments are also on the line. In all, 224 county jobs are at risk with the current proposal.If the committee does not take a vote on May 17, 2012, another meeting will be held on May 22nd at 5:15 p.m. in Harris Hall at the Lane County Public Services building, located in downtown Eugene. For a complete look at the Lane County proposed budget, visit the county’s dedicated website at http://www.lanecounty.org/Departments/CAO/Budget/Pages/default.aspx.