School Budget Seeking Input; Gas Prices Skyrocket; Ballots Returned; Peace Officers Memorial Day

Coast Radio News
Local News

15 May 2013

School Budget Process Relies on Public Involvement

Earlier this year there was talk of possible teacher layoffs but most recently that has swung to shortening the school year.  The important thing to remember, according to Siuslaw School Budget Committee Chair Duane “Boomer” Wright, is that so far it is just talk.

Boomer Wright – “You know, nothing has been decided.  All those things that you’ve heard are basically recommendations at this point.”

The Budget Committee will consider the latest administrative proposals this evening and Wright says members need to hear from as many people as possible about priorities and alternatives.  He says the more public testimony, the better.

Boomer Wright – “And that’s why it’s so important that we invite people and that they come and they talk and they tell us what they think.  It’s not like we don’t listen or we don’t take advantage of that information when we’re given because we do.  It’s sometimes when nobody shows up that we’re kind of are at a frustrating level about, you know, making any decisions.”

The entire process will be held up until the Oregon Legislature finalizes the school funding formula for the next biennium.  Next week’s local option levy extension vote could have an impact on next year’s budget as well.  The Budget Committee meets tonight, 6:30 at the elementary school library.

Ballot Returns

So far, one in six registered voters in Lane County have returned their ballots.  As of yesterday the count at the elections office showed just over 34-thousand of a nearly 210-thousand ballots have been cast in next week’s election.

That’s about 16% return so far.

Turnout for the May election over the past three years has averaged 38% while four years ago in May 2009 only one in five voters or 21% returned their ballots.  Five years ago in the hotly contested presidential primary year of 2008 the turnout was 64%.

This year, there are plenty of things to draw voters out.  There are 12 candidates vying for four spots on the Port of Siuslaw Commission; Siuslaw School District is seeking extension of a 75-cents-per-thousand local option tax levy; Lane County is asking voters for $79-million over the next five years to pay for jail operations; and residents in the Heceta Water District are deciding whether or not to convert the district governance to a People’s Utility District.

Ballots are due back no later than eight pm next Tuesday.

Gas Prices Skyrocket

What’s happening at the pump?  Well, according to Triple-A spokesperson Marie Dodds tight supplies and “refinery issues” on the west coast have sent prices skyrocketing.

In Florence the average price for a gallon of regular has shot up by 34-cents a gallon over the past two weeks.  Most of that has come in just the past few days.

Today’s average price in Florence is $3.87 a gallon; Oregon’s average, as measured by Triple-A, is $3.93 and the national average price is at $3.58 a gallon.

Dodds says supplies were already low and maintenance at refineries drove availability down further and prices higher.

Even with the increases, the current averages are considerably below last year at this time when the statewide average was $4.17 a gallon.

Fallen Officers Remembered

Today is Peace Officers Memorial Day.  Flags around the nation are flying at half staff in honor of police officers who have given their lives in service.