Coast Radio News

Levy Dollars Left On The Table; Candidate Forum Recap; Tourism Boost

Levy Dollars Left on The Table…For Now.

 

It’s the only levy on the May 16th ballot for Florence but it will determine the direction of the jail and youth services.  The current bond levy of 55 cents per thousand dollars of evaluated property has one last year and according to sheriff Byron Trapp has been more than effective in producing the desired results

 

“That has allowed us to increase jail capacity over 250 percent.  We have reduced capacity based releases – that when we have more people than bed capacity.  We’ve reduced capacity based releases over 63% on a monthly average.  And the important thing is we are not releasing those very violent offenders that we were pre-levy.”

 

Sheriff Trapp says due to not being able to fill some positions created by the increased priority put on the jail, it was only necessary to use 38 cents of the 55 cents levied.  And he believes that they will be able to do that again in the final year of the current levy, but eventually they will need to use more of the available monies.

 

“The .38 cent current amount levied is not a sustainable amount over the long term so I have people ask me often ‘why don’t you just renew it at .38 cents if that’s all you need?’  Well, .38 cents is less than we need.  We’re using what’s in the bank now and .38 cents doesn’t cover the bills.”

 

Voters will have the final say, but Sheriff Trapp says the levy has allowed for a much better jail service for Lane County.

 

 

Candidate forum..Sparks, no Fire

 

It came down to finance and management in the race for the seats on the Western Lane Ambulance District Board of Directors.  Dollar figures were tossed around and several different candidates had bottoms lines that did not agree.  Anne stonelake said that her review of the supposed benefits of the Inter Governmental agreement fell short on finances.

 

“When I received this from the Chief addressed to Larry and we get a comparison chart here, I didn’t understand it so I went to Holloways and Associates and I asked for clarification.  I have that clarification here that’s actual.”

 

The figures that she presented the forum were in the red rather than the black.  Forum host Bob Sneddon asked Stonelake what were her findings?

 

“It’s 89 thousand, 8 hundred and 63 dollars and 73 cents that it’s cost the Ambulance district.”

 

The focus switched to Larry Farnsworth, who is running against Stonelake.  And he posed that the numbers were for a different time period.

 

“She was looking at expenses back to February 2015.  I’m sorry the agreement was signed in July 2016.”

 

In summarizing the exchange Sneddon asked if it came down to a case of trust in the person heading up the IGA.  And Stonelake affirmed that was indeed one difference in the two candidates.

 

 

Fire and Rescue

On the siuslaw valley fire and rescue board the two vacant seats  were about different kinds of experience.  On one vacant seat it was lifelong member of Siuslaw Valley fire and rescue, Marvin Tipler, and businessman and OPB CEO Ron Green.

Both were extremely positive about the direction they wanted to see the board take, Tipler believing that they needed new leadership at the helm of the IGA, and Green in support of the current management.  Tipler said he could not reconcile the number that Chief Langborg gave when it came to the SVFR budget.

 

“We’re getting ready to pay off our Fire Station, we’re getting ready to pay off our ladder truck, and we’re getting ready to pay off two of our newest engines, that’s going to free up roughly 350 thousand a year.  That’s a third of our budget.”

 

Tipler said that, according to figures that the chief released, it showed that the fire station would be in the red within 3 years.  Even with the excess savings.

Also under fire was the boards decision last year to Fire the current Chief.  Tipler cited the need to have a full time Fire Chief, not someone splitting his time between 2 entities.  His opponent Oregon Pacific Bank CEO Ron Green said that he looked in to the chiefs performance

 

“What’s confusing to me about the whole issue of the criticism that I hear about the chief is that it’s public record.  You know you can go in and ask for his performance reviews, and I did that.  I sat down with the chief as part of my preparation to run for this office and he gave me, at my request, his performance review during the time of a year ago, two years ago, and it’s all stellar.”

 

In all the exchange was a civil one.  If you would like to hear the complete forum, you can do so at KCST.com

 

Happy People = Tourism!

On the heels of our recent designation by USA Today as one of the top 10 destinations to visit on the coast, Coast Radio News spoke with the executive director of the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce, Bettina Hannigan and asked her why she thought Florence has been consistently picked by major publications as a great place to visit.

 

“The service and friendliness is really what makes the difference.  You know  you go to Waterfront Depot and you see Tom there.  The friendliness of the servers Fred Meyer, you go to Fred Meyer and your checking out and the checkout people are happy to see you.  They’re friendly, they know your name.  I think that’s really what makes the difference. The people in Florence are generally very happy or very happy!”

 

With normal tourist season being quite busy, Hannigan hopes that all the kudos will help to book some of the slower times.

 

“I’m really hoping it will bring some overflow into what they call the shoulder seasons. Which would be like April, May, June, you know, October, November.  Because our hotels rooms are emptier at those times.  Our tourism oriented venues are not as busy.”

 

Hannigan reiterated that it really is about the people of Florence that makes us such a great destination.