Reaching out with a Quick Note, that I do intend to keep quick as many of you may be finding it hard to focus with a Friday night Duck Game on the horizon.
First, some good news. Monday evening Eugene City Council had a second discussion on the Community Safety Initiative and the payroll taxes that are being collected. You may recall that there was an effort to convince city council to reallocate the funding in the wake of social unrest and a national movement to defund the police. Many of you know the Chamber and businesses made a big push to reach out to council to let them know we did not support them moving funding away from police resources or using those payroll taxes in another way than they originally intended. On Monday, City Councilors made it clear they did not want to see those funds reallocated and that they have heard loud and clear our plea to increase safety in the community and the need for adequate police services to do that. The funding distribution of the new payroll tax will remain largely as originally intended, with the majority going to expand police services. While acknowledging the importance of police reforms, council nevertheless stood by its commitment to invest in and improve public safety services.
Since the Eugene Chamber published the “State of our Homeless Crisis” report a few weeks ago we have seen several positive actions. First, our report called for a collective group of community members representing different sectors of our community to come together to clearly articulate what success looks like in our community when it comes to this issue and what we need to do differently to make forward progress. The chamber is taking the lead on convening that group and we are beginning to get buy-in from the necessary partners for a different approach.
Additionally, we called for a business leaders task force to be created to identify ways the private sector could contribute to this issue. More than 30 individuals have expressed interest in that task force and that group will convene in the coming weeks. If you are interested in participating, it is not too late, please let me know and we will add you to the list.
Through the American Recovery Plan Act passed by the federal government the City of Eugene will receive $35 million in one-time funds and Lane County will receive nearly $75 million. An influx of funds at that amount could be transformational for our community if we are strategic in how we invest those funds. Today a committee of chamber members including Gary Wildish, Casey Roscoe, John Borofsky, Thomas Pettus-Czar, Kaarin Knudson, and Jeannine Parisi met to discuss investment principals and areas we believe investments should be focused.
Next week the Eugene Budget Committee will convene to have a similar discussion and we plan to weigh in on behalf of the business community around this topic. If you have particular thoughts on those investments or things the city should focus on, please feel free to send those my way and we incorporate feedback from our members.
Thank you all for your continued investment in our community and for staying engaged in the conversations that move our business community forward.