Local News: School Budget Brighter; Water and Sewer Rates Going Up; Gas remains high; Town Hall to focus on underage drinking

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Local News

School Budget Paints a slightly brighter picture

The Siuslaw School District Budget Committee will still have plenty of challenges this year, but for the first time in several years they won’t be facing doom and gloom in the annual budget message.  When they meet for the first time this year they’ll hear from superintendent Jeff Davis who says things are looking just a little brighter.

Jeff Davis – “A tone of cautious optimism.  Our ending fund reserve, we anticipate will be slightly up and we anticipate increasing staffing a little bit to help with class load issues in each of our buildings.”

It’s still very tight financially, but Davis says the district has had some unexpected help in the form of more students.

Jeff Davis – “I think the difference is that we’ve held on to our enrollment.  We had an increase in enrollment, we’ve held on to it.  And we have a healthier budget reserve than we expected and that’s why I now want to address concerns that have now emerged over the year.”

Those enrollment increases are actually slight compared to last year, but are tracking about three-percent above the 2010 school year.  The budget committee meets this evening at 6:30, just prior to the regular school board meeting at district offices on Oak Street.

Water and Sewer Rates to Increase

Increasing costs to operate the water and waste water treatment facilities will turn into increased household costs for city residents this year.

Jacque Betz – “Right now we’re proposing a 4% increase in water and a 15% increase in sewer.”

Florence City Manager Jacque Betz reviewed the numbers with the city’s budget committee earlier this week who concurred with the rate increases that will add about ten dollars a month to residential customers.  The extra money is required mostly because of increased costs to operate both facilities.  Some of the water rate increase will be used to help pay for a wellhead protection plan.

Town Hall to Focus on Underage Drinking

A special Town Hall style meeting aimed at helping owners and employees of stores that sell alcohol make sure they’re not selling to underage buyers will be offered next week.  The Florence Area Prevention Coalition is hosting the meeting Friday, April 20th at Siuslaw Public Library from 4:00 to 6:00 PM.

The Town Hall will be hosted by Florence Justice Court Judge Cindy Cable and 97J Indian Education Director Lynn Anderson.  Speakers will include representatives from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, Emergence and Florence Police.

Gas Rates Holding Steady

The local average price for a gallon of regular unleaded increased a penny this week to $4.03.  Average prices across the country and in Oregon have basically held steady according to Triple-A.  Oregon’s statewide average is $4.10 a gallon; the nationwide average is $3.92.  Nine states and the District of Columbia have average prices at or above four dollars… that’s down from 11 states and DC last week.