Local News: County Payments; Voter Registration; Florence Budget; Mayor’s Good Luck Charm

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Local News

County Payments Stay Alive in Congress…

A glimmer of hope has arisen in Congress for extending federal payments to rural timber counties, but even if it comes, the money remains far short of what counties need to stave off painful cuts.

Last week the House passed a transportation bill, raising the possibility it could be melded with a Senate version that has an amendment extending $106.4 million in payments to Oregon timber counties for one more year.

Senator Ron Wyden’s office says as long as no one in the House actively opposes it, county payments should be in the final bill.

In Josephine County, which has long depended on the payments, County Commissioner Simon Hare says the payments would cover just a third of the $12 million budget hole the county is facing.

Lane County is facing a similar shortfall.  Officials here say while the cash will be welcomed, it too will fall short of the deficit.

General Fund Discussed

The Florence Budget Committee will hear presentations from several different departments this evening, ranging from public safety to parks… many of them share one thing in common, they’re funded by the general fund.

Also on tap for budgeteers will be requests from two different groups… the Lane Transit District and Siuslaw Outreach Services… to increase funding for their programs.  LTD works cooperatively with the City on the Rhody Express.  Accessible Services Specialist Susan Hekimoglu says Florence’s share of the five-day per week transit service will increase from $28,500 to an even $30-thousand in the coming year.

David Wiegan with SOS is seeking a 25-percent funding increase from $12-thousand to $15-thousand to fund domestic violence assistance and other emergency social services.  Wiegan says the funding is to maintain services and not expand any offerings.  The city budget committee meets at city hall beginning at six pm.

Voter Registration Deadline

If you’re currently not registered to vote and you want to participate in the May 15th Primary election… tomorrow is your deadline.  Voter registrations must be received by the Lane County Elections office by four pm tomorrow in order to be eligible for a ballot next month.  Lane County Clerk Cheryl Betschart says an April 24th postmark on a voter registration card is acceptable, or you can register online at www.oregonvotes.org.

Several statewide races are on the ballot.  One local tax issue will be decided by Western Lane voters.  Western Lane Ambulance District is seeking approval of a five-year local option levy.

Mayor’s Good Luck Charm

Florence Senior Planner Wendy Farley-Campbell will be known as Senior Chief Petty Officer for the next 14 months.  The last day on the job at City Hall will be next Monday for the long time Naval Reservist.  She’ll spend several months training stateside before shipping out to Northeast Afghanistan in the fall for a stint helping local residents build government and local infrastructure.  Last week in a formal going-away Mayor Phil Brubaker loaned her a hand-carved onyx bear.

Phil Brubaker – “This was originally given to me by my own mother back in 1971 when I went to Viet Nam as a good luck charm.”

It’s not the first time Brubaker has shared the charm with Farley-Campbell.  Her last deployment was four years ago to Kuwait.

Phil Brubaker – “Te last time Wendy was deployed to the Middle East I gave it to her.  It’s a good luck charm, she brought it back, gave it back to me.  So I did it one more time, hopefully with the same result.”

During her absence city officials will keep her position open… filling in with contract employees to fill any needs that may come up.