Local News: LC Sheriff Making Massive Cuts; State Revenue Shortfall Smaller Than Normal; Rhody Court; and Radio Auction

Coast Radio News
Local News

Massive Cuts in Store for Lane County Sheriff’s Department

Staffing levels at the Lane County Jail and in the patrol division have already been slashed because of budget shortfalls over the past several years.

They’re set to go even deeper.

About 80 employees in the Lane County Sheriff’s Department will be laid off by mid-March because of an expected dramatic downturn in funding next year.  In a memo to Lane County Commissioners yesterday, Sheriff Tom Turner said he’s making the moves now in order to transfer this year’s savings into the next fiscal year.  Half of the county’s 262 jail beds will be closed; only four deputies will remain on staff; and misdemeanor parolees will no longer be supervised.

The cuts will also mean that many offenders convicted of violent Measure 11 crimes often will be released because of a lack of jail beds and only the most violent crimes will merit a uniformed response.  Lane County is facing a loss of about $13.5-million in federal funding from the “timber payments” program next year… about half of that would have gone to the Sheriff’s Department.  Turner said other revenue losses will bring his agency’s reductions to more than $12-million for next year alone… about a quarter of his overall budget.

State revenue shortfall smaller than expected

Economists say Oregon will take in $35-million less in income taxes than what was projected three months ago.  State Senator Joanne Verger says even though tax collections will be down, the announcement was encouraging news.

Joanne Verger – “I think it is, you know it’s still on the downward trend, but it’s better than I thought it would be and I think it’s better than most people anticipated.”

What most had expected was a shortfall of nearly three times that amount.  Verger says the news means the current 29-day legislative session won’t have to worry about rebalancing the budget over the next 16 months.

Joanne Verger – “We don’t have to worry about that because we figured that we were pretty good from 50 to 100 million down.  So, with 35, we’re pretty much in high cotton there.”

To her, not having to focus on budget issues was good news because the legislature is dealing with a pair of major reform proposals by the Governor… health care and education.

Applications for Rhody Court due Monday

An annual tradition that dates back to 1907 is drawing near once again.  The third weekend in May is given over to the colorful pink wild rhododendrons that grace the landscape in Western Lane County.  Representing the trusses and the community will be five young ladies who will participate in the Rhododendron Scholarship Pageant on Friday, May 18th.  Applications for the senior court are being accepted through Monday, February 13th.  An interview panel will select the finalists.  Information can be had by calling the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center or going to the chamber’s website.

Radio Auction means big savings for listeners

More than 160 items will go on the auction block between now and Saturday as listeners to KCST and The Music of Your Life will have chances to save a considerable amount of cash.  Twice each year, locally owned Coast Radio collects merchandise and services from advertisers, then puts them up for sale in a radio auction.  Listeners call in and bid as each item is put up for sale.  Coast Radio General Manager Jon Thompson said when all is said and done, the average is about 50% savings.  Airtime on both stations will be devoted to the auction beginning at 9:15 Friday morning and go until about four pm.  Then again at nine on Saturday until the last item is sold.