Friday, March 16, 2007

[Updated]Lane County preparing to get in touch with their inner cave(wo)man?

[Updated: 3/16/07, 9:45AM--Just spoke with Greta Utecht--Lane County Human Resources Manager. Utecht says that if the Secure Rural Schools $ (federal timber payments) doesn't come through and the income tax fails, 300+ jobs will likely get the ax. Utech did note that the Budget Cmte has yet to meet, but her estimate is based on the priority list that the various department heads have sent out]

The electorate in Lane County is apparently up in arms over the decision by county commissioners to enact a 1.1% income tax to cover the lack of forthcoming timber funds from the feds.

The reasons for the tax balk are no doubt many--but the overall pisser appears to be the notion that commissioners enacted this tax outside of the will of the voters. Nevermind that the voters elect these people into office...apparently that doesn't count.

Locals also seem to think that the tax isn't necessary now because The House of Reps managed to cobble together a one year extension of the timber payments. Apparently they're ignoring the part where Bush plans to veto the House plan--and there aren't enough votes to override.

The situation created prime time for anti-tax whacknutters to flock to Eugene in an effort to collect signatures to force the issue on to the ballot. They hoped to collect 10,000--they managed 6500 (5577 valid sigs are required), according to Brian Shaw of KOPT in Eugene. The funding for the petition drive was led by Taxpayer Association of Oregon who gave $2000 to the effort. As I understand it there were four other donors--all private--who brought the total to $4300, according to Ben Pooler, an organizer with the effort.

Last night, the Board of Commissioners decided not to wait and placed the tax on the May ballot. If the tax doesn't pass, Lane County will lay off 250 workers and slash the budget.

If the tax doesn't pass--Lane County and the rest of Oregon are going to get an object lesson in what happens when anti-tax activists get their way: a local government completely unable to meet the needs of the citizens.