I hope you all are staying healthy and navigating yet another round of COVID challenges.
We have been collecting contacts for business leaders impacted by the growing safety concerns in our community and I want to address that issue today, which our chamber has been working on extensively.
Community Safety Initiative/ Payroll Tax
On Monday, September 13th Eugene City Councilors will come back from a summer break to a work session on the Community Safety Initiative (you can watch that meeting at 5:30 pm here). The Community Safety Initiative and ordinance was passed by Eugene City Council in 2019 to increase funding and align resources that would reduce crime, improve neighborhood quality of life, and stabilize our public safety system. It is funded by employers and employees in the form of a payroll tax that went into effect January of 2021.
For a history of the Community Safety Initiative, why it came to be, and the role the chamber played in the negotiations, please see this brief article we published today: https://www.openforbizeugene.com/a-quick-note-the-safety-of-our-community/
When this initiative was introduced to the community, our chamber was less than enthusiastic about a new tax on business, but our leaders understood the dire state our community safety system was in and how an underperforming safety system negatively impacted the economic prosperity of our region.
At the time, our Chamber played a large role in influencing the outcome of that ordinance to better serve the business community. Among many different items, we advocated for citizen oversight of the funds, demanded metrics be included in the ordinance, and pushed for a public vote after seven years to hold the city accountable for accomplishing those metrics.
Today, city councilors are facing pressure to defund the police and shift funds away from the police department to other places in our community- while at the same time we are telling them story after story of how police officers didn’t show up for hours when they were called in an emergency if they were able to respond at all.
City councilors will be getting a report on the history of that initiative, the current state of our safety metrics and an update on how much money has been collected to date. They are not likely to make a final decision on September 13th but we believe it is important that prior to that meeting, they each hear the stories of businesses and neighbors who do not feel safe in this community and who want to see more police support in our community, not less.
CALL TO ACTION: Please send a note to our elected officials BEFORE SEPTEMBER 13th urging them to keep their promises to our community to decrease police response times, increase the number of calls they can respond to, and decrease crime in neighborhoods by spending more time proactively policing.
Email the full city council at this address: email@example.com. If you would like to email your city councilor directly, a full contact list is attached.
Council members are hearing from individuals who want to defund the police. They need to keep hearing from businesses that need more protection, not less.
Thank you all for your support in this effort.