Help restore Safety and Public Trust in Lane County

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Help restore Safety and Public Trust in Lane County

Postby savelanecounty » Sun Nov 02, 2008 1:44 pm

I believe trust is earned. With what little trust the public has in our local county government, maybe it is time to remove some of the variables. People are tired of the annual ‘sky is falling’ rhetoric, ‘we must cut police and schools’ unless we raise taxes. This ‘putting feet to the fire’ threat doesn’t work. Year after year, Public Safety ballot measures have been defeated. This has created a very unfortunate situation for all of us. The Lane County Jail system is severely inadequate for our population, and even fully staffed, is less than 50% of what is needed. However, the people of Lane County are NOT going to write a blank check to a governing party that has proved itself unresponsive to the needs of its constituents.
To help alleviate some of this mistrust, I propose new county bi-laws be introduced, that make any future proposed decreases in funding to Public Safety and Public Schools go before the voters. In addition, I see no reason that the $7-8 million needed to fully utilize the current jail and Community Correction Center cannot be funded from the renewed SRS funds. After all, this is the reason so many elected officials worked so diligently, to get these funds renewed. While I do see the reasoning behind paying down some of the county’s debts to lower interest payments, now is not the time. Perhaps the commissioners should bring a levy to the voters so that WE can decide if paying off/down these obligations is a good thing to do right now.
Earning the public’s trust really isn’t very complicated. Make decisions that exemplify the priorities of the general public. Manage the county budget like everyone else has to manage theirs. A funding measure to maintain the status-quo, in our local jail will never pass. And it shouldn’t have to. Safety should be priority number one. Everything else is optional. We don’t HAVE to run dozens of parks, libraries, an animal shelter, etc… But, we all want these things in addition to having a safe community. These things being optional can be funded secondary, much like the ‘entertainment’ section of a family budget. Public Safety and Public Schools ARE what we pay taxes for.
Given these measures of good-faith, and future assurances, trust can be re-built. Our community and our elected officials can then work together to find an efficient solution to our lack of jail space. Perhaps a future measure can be drafted to fund a new correctional facility. A new facility would be costly and require an increase in taxes, which no one wants to pay. But, willing or not, we are all paying the cost of our currently ineffective system. Whether you have been victimized personally or not, you are paying. Being nationally recognized as an ‘auto-theft capital’ and ‘meth hub’ effects our home and auto insurance rates, house values and salability, and loss of tourism.
Using rough figures, a new facility could cost $80 million, which if raised in property tax would be approximately $.25 per $1000 of taxable home value, or $58.75, for the average home owner ($235,000 Lane County 2007 median home price). A relatively small price to pay for the safety of our families, values of our homes, and futures of our community businesses.
In regards to our County Commissioners, let their behavior and actions speak for their priorities. Too many times I have seen behavior completely unacceptable for an elected official from more than one board member. Be an informed citizen, watch the commissioners past and upcoming meetings on webcasts at http://lanecounty.org/webcast/Default.aspx Don’t let misrepresentation go unchecked. Contact your Commissioner by phone, postal mail, email or public comment at their meetings. Next meeting is Nov. 5th, 2008 9 AM, live on webcast or view in person.
savelanecounty
 
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Joined: Sun Nov 02, 2008 1:40 pm

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