LANE COUNTY, Ore. (KMTR) -- Public safety may go back on the ballot in Lane County, as commissioners have approved an executive task force to review taking another funding measure to voters.
The task force was approved in a Wednesday meeting county commission meeting on March 14th, 2012.
Over the next several weeks, the task force will meet to discuss Lane County's options for another public safety money measure. The outcome will likely be the creation of some kind of tax levy proposal to go in front of voters by the end of 2012.
The executive task force is still coming together, but will be made up of several county leaders and likely several municipal leaders. Lane County Sheriff Tom Turner, District Attorney Alex Gardner, Administrator Liane Richardson, Assessor Anette Spickard will all be a part of the task force.
Individuals from Lane County Health and Human Services are also likely to take part, along with representatives from Eugene and Springfield's city manager's offices.
Currently, Lane County is facing around 15 million dollars in general fund budget cuts for fiscal year 2013, which begins July 1st, 2012.
While there is a possibility of one more round of timber payments that could give Lane County an extra 4.5 million dollars for its general fund, major cuts are likely. (Read NewsSource 16's original story on Lane County budget cuts and a possible timber payment extension here: http://www.kmtr.com/news/local/story/Renewed-timber-payment-proposal-may-bring/pTPyNi1X8EiXlnAUeyF-nQ.cspx.)
For the Sheriff's Office, the cuts could decimate services. (Read NewsSource 16's original story on Sheriff's Office cuts here: http://www.kmtr.com/news/local/story/Sheriff-prepares-for-drastic-Lane-Co-budget-cuts/HAGQqcWsX0iEQ7Vhj-WsKg.cspx.)
With the current FY2013 budget, the Lane County Sheriff's Office may have to cut around 70 to 80 positions, scale back patrols to 16 hours a day and close an additional 130 jail beds, along with other cuts.
Commissioner Jay Bozievich spoke about the tax with NewsSource 16 on Thursday.
“This isn't about crying wolf. We are in a crisis,” says Bozievich.
Bozievich says the commission has not directed the executive task force to go after a specific tax levy rate, but that will be part of the task force's work.
According to Bozievich, other cuts include “9 of our 14 patrol deputies, much of criminal prosecution staff and parole and probation supervision of misdemeanor offenders.”
“And we are going to have such a low level of public safety that, we're going to be endangering the public and it's not about crying wolf,” says Bozievich.
“If anybody knows me and knows my history, I am the last person to start talking about a tax increase, it's that serious that that's where I am,” says Bozievich.
The task force will report back to the Lane County Board of Commissioners on May 2nd, 2012. By then, they should have more concrete information on how much they may ask voters to approve with a levy.
As it stands now, the levy would likely go to voters in November 2012, but again, nothing is set.
Lane County voters haven't approved a public safety funding measure since 1998.