EUGENE, Ore. (KMTR) -- Lane County faced some of the biggest budgetary challenges in its history in 2012. In the State of the County address Monday, Board of Commissioners Chair Sid Leiken commended the public and elected officials for facing those challenges and laid out some plans for improvement in 2013.
One of the most-discussed budget battles in 2012 came in the Sheriff's office. Deputies were laid off and jail beds were closed, leaving many questions about future funding for the county's public safety.
County officials also worked to improve public health over the past year. Statistics show Oregon has the lowest number of immunized kindergarteners in the nation. The public health department set up community clinics in 2012 and worked with local businesses to encourage vaccines, bringing the immunization rate up ten percent.
Looking ahead, Commissioner Leiken emphasized economic development as an important factor in getting the county back on track financially. In September, Goshen was designated by the state as the only regionally significant industrial area, making it a better target for large companies looking for space. Leiken encouraged looking beyond Eugene and Springfield for business opportunities to areas like Goshen with different potential. He also said local government must match the risks of private investments to help stimulate growth.