The Eugene City Council will consider a proposed payroll tax to fund expanded public safety. The tax would be paid by employers and employees and generate an estimated $22.8 million a year.
The idea was proposed at this week’s council work session by an advisory committee that was asked to identity long-term funding. It would help bolster staff at the police department, municipal court, jail and through homeless outreach. Kevin Alltucker helped facilitate the advisory committee. He told the council the increased funding for public safety will benefit business. “How many of us have heard businesses in the downtown area say, I am fed up, I’m losing customers because they don’t want to come downtown right? So that there’s some benefits in livability to this payroll tax.”
Brittany Quick-Warner with the Eugene Chamber of Commerce says she hopes to have more discussion of the proposal. “It’s incredibly important to the economy that our businesses and our community feels safe.” Quick-Warner says, “That being said, you know, we have, there’s a mounting amount of regulation that this community, that we’ve kind of bared the burden on. So it’s going to be a really important conversation to have.”
The city council will have a public process before deciding on the proposal. City officials say the system is under strain because staffing is not keeping up with Eugene's growing population. Long wait times or no response by police officers to low-priority service calls has been among the most visible signs of this strain to the public.