Local News: Officials Hear Mixed Signals; City Trans Plan; Umpqua Lighthouse; 126 Construction

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Lane County Officials Hear Mixed Signals…

West Lane County Commissioner Jay Bozievich is hearing two messages… both of them clear:

West Lane County Commissioner Jay Bozievich.

Jay Bozievich – “Quite a few people do not want to see us add any additional taxes.   I’m hearing back from people that times are very tough, it’s really difficult, the small businesses are having trouble making it right now, the seniors are having trouble with property taxes being one of their largest expenses.”

Lane County has been dealing with a downturn in revenue for the last five years… state and federal agencies, dealing with a recession-caused loss of income tax collections, began reducing payments for social services.  At the same time, federal payments to timber producing counties began tapering off, leaving regional government agencies with a ‘double-whammy’.  A failed attempt to raise property taxes four years ago made it clear to elected officials that voters wanted them to live within their means… that eventually led to the most dramatic service cuts thus far, many of them in public safety.  That has led in turn to another strong message from constituents.

Jay Bozievich– “I’m also hearing from citizens about our lack of response on police services and the fact that we’re releasing these people charged with pretty difficult crimes from jail.”

Where does that leave Lane County?  Bozievich says efforts are still under way to get additional federal dollars to pay for public safety on the hundreds of thousands of acres of public land in Lane County.  But, he adds, if residents want more public safety services, they may have to find a way to pay for them.

Jay Bozievich – “We’re going to have to probably step up locally on a temporary basis and bridge that gap.”

That could mean a local option property tax levy presented to voters to pay for sheriff’s deputies, jail beds and prosecution.

City of Florence Transportation Plan To Get More Discussion

The Florence City Council will resume work this evening on prioritizing a list of six-dozen different transportation related projects in the 20-year transportation plan.  A citizen committee began working with city staff on the plan more than two years ago.

Earlier this year it was endorsed by the planning commission and so far the council has heard from more residents.  They planned to work on it last week during their regular meeting but a heavy agenda prevented that.  They’ll hold a work session on it this evening beginning at six pm at City Hall… then accept more public testimony on the plan August 6th.

Umpqua River Lighthouse Civilian Efforts Applauded

Rear Adm. Keith A. Taylor, 13th Coast Guard District commander, and MJ Koreiva, Umpqua River Lighthouse Museum manager. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nate Littlejohn

For the past 118 years the distinctive red and white light at the Umpqua River Lighthouse has guided mariners to that river’s entrance.  The responsibility for keeping it operating was transferred earlier this year from the U.S. Coast Guard to Douglas County.

Coast Guard; Douglas County; local officials; and volunteers commemorated that transfer last week during a special reception as the Umpqua River Lighthouse Museum in Winchester Bay.  13th Coast Guard District Commander Rear Admiral Keith A. Taylor was on hand to thank the many volunteers for their part in caring for the lighthouse.  Among those personally thanked by the admiral… M.J. Koreiva, the Umpqua Lighthouse Museum manager.

Work on 126 to Begin

Preliminary work will begin this week on a construction project that will rebuild and repave two sections of Highway 126 just east of Florence.  Surveying and sign placement for the project will begin this month.  The first segment will improve the highway from Spruce Street to the North Fork Siuslaw Bridge.  The other segment will begin on the east side of the bridge and run approximately six-and-a-half miles.  Much of the work will be done during daytime hours.  Paving is expected to begin in September.