Want To Weigh In On County Spending?

Over the past couple years there have been cuts in Lane County’s budget to the animal shelter, cuts in funding for Womenspace and cuts to other groups that provide aid to women, children and others in need, while at the same time the Lane County administrator who was making more than $150,000 a year was seeking to have her salary raised. If these county financial issues have raised your ire, now is the time to do something about it and weigh in. 

 Lane County’s Budget Committee has an opening for a citizen member from Commissioner Pete Sorenson’s South Eugene district. The county is accepting applications until Jan. 13. The committee is made up of the five Lane County commissioners and of five residents — one from each commissioner’s district. 

The current committee members are Herb Vloedman from Jay Bozievich’s West Eugene district; Shanna Reichenberger, who is Sid Leiken’s Springfield appointee; Rose Wilde, who was appointed by former commissioner Rob Handy for North Eugene; and Denis Hijmans for Faye Stewart’s East Lane district.  

Sorenson, who is looking to replace Ashley Miller whose term expires Dec. 21, says the Budget Committee allocates over $400 million each year “and has a lot of flexibility on how that’s done. Just as a family budget can be allocated in a variety of ways, so can a county budget.” He says having five residents serve on the committee, as required under Oregon law “is to provide an ‘outside’ perspective on the process. It’s important.”

The Budget Committee reviews and approves the proposed budget, limits levied taxes and tentatively establishes maximum spending amounts each fund in the county’s budget, according to a recent press release. The county’s General Fund alone is facing a possible $5 to $6 million-dollar shortfall. Former budget committee member Scott Bartlett says that appointees can make a difference on specific issues when they really dig into the budget.

Bartlett, who served on the budget committee for 16 years periodically between 1986 and 2011, and was appointed by both liberal and conservative commissioners, adds, “Budget is policy, and the priorities in the budget reflect the majority political will — in the current case reflecting a Republican and highly partisan and right-of-center orientation.”

Sorenson and the county have been sending out requests for applications to fill this vacancy. According to the county press release, “Vacancies on this committee will not be advertised unless otherwise requested by the board member whose district representation has been vacated.”

To apply go to wkly.ws/161, call 682-4203 or go to the Public Service Building at 125 East 8th Ave.

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