Local News: County Budget; ME’s Office; School Budget and Schedule; Gas Prices

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Local News

Many cuts… few surprises in County Budget…

Lane County will have roughly $100-million less to work with in the coming year and about 200 fewer employees doing that work.  The 2012-13 budget was released late yesterday and here’s the cut list:  49 Public Works positions; 47 jobs in corrections; 29 patrol deputies; 13 slots in the District Attorney’s office and two employees in the Medical Examiner’s Office.

The impact will be far more than just employment.  Job losses in public works will mean less work on and around Lane County roads and will only increase the amount of deferred maintenance.

The public safety cuts will reduce the number of jail beds at the Lane County Lockup will be cut by more than half to only 121 available.  Sheriff’s layoffs will leave only six patrol deputies on the road, 16 out of 24 hours; and fewer prosecutions will be made by the DA’s office.

The draft budget proposal will go to the Lane County Budget Committee for their first meeting Tuesday evening in Eugene.

As sure as death and taxes…

One of the cuts in the Lane County budget will be implemented next month and has the potential for a large impact on police and public safety agencies.  Firefighters, paramedics and police officers could wind up being tied up for hours on end if they respond to an unattended death call.  That’s because there’ll no longer be a medical examiner staff in Lane County to investigate and declare those deaths.  The last two deputy examiners will be gone in about three weeks and the lease on morgue space has already been terminated.  Required autopsies will be sent to other counties, but the assistance to law enforcement agencies by the examiners cannot be replaced.  Ultimately it could cost family members of deceased residents.

School Budget Input Sought

The Siuslaw School District Budget Committee will take public input this evening on their draft proposal for the coming year.  Administrators say the revenue picture in the coming year is optimistic.  Enrollment increases could turn into a corresponding increase in teachers and some programs.  Public input begins at 6:30 this evening at the Elementary School Library.

Immediately following the school budget committee hearing, the School Board will convene for a brief special meeting to hear an update from Superintendent Jeff Davis on the possibility of schedule changes in the future.  Davis and other administrators have been looking at the possibility of changing from the current four-quarter; two-semester system to a trimester schedule.  Davis says the change, if it comes, would not come immediately.

Gas Prices Dip

The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded fell by two cents in Florence this past week.  It’s now at $3.98… six cents below the Oregon Statewide average, but 13 cents above the national average.  According to Triple-A that national average price fell by five cents this past week to $3.85 a gallon.  Oregon’s average price also dipped slightly… by three cents and is at $4.04.