EUGENE, Ore. -- County managers on Tuesday announced total cuts of $100 million starting July 1. That means the county will lose more than 200 employees. Yet more information is still coming out about those big budget cuts looming for Lane County.
131 more jail beds will be emptied, and 49 jobs in public works will be gone, meaning bad news for county roads.
Nowhere would the loss of county payments from the feds be more pronounced than for public safety. It's making rural residents pretty upset.
Walterville resident Gary Billick told us Wednesday, "Well, more than likely, out here we won't see anybody."
One Lane County road deputy per 766 square miles. That's the hard mathematics facing the Sheriff's Department, starting July 1st. A $10 million cut is slicing 24 total deputies from the staff. Road patrol deputies drop by 18 to only six, plus two supervisors.
"The other reality is that with only six deputies, regardless of how you deploy them, you're only going to have one or two on duty at any given time," explains Captain Byron Trapp.
He adds they'll respond to even fewer calls after July 1 -- only threats to personal safety.
"That's rapes, major assaults, sex crimes, homicides, attempted homicides," Trapp said.
Trapp says other deputies assigned to river patrols, Lane County Search and Rescue and 7 other categories are paid for by grants and can't help road deputies, except in dire emergencies. After June 30, rural patrols will be down to under one-tenth of a deputy per thousand population, leaving folks in places like Walterville less than pleased.
"I don't know who--if the sheriff isn't out here I don't know who we'd call," said Walterville resident Darrell Barkelew.
A skeptical Chris Toy told us during his lunch break, "I don't understand why they don't make some other cuts in some of the, more recent programs that were added, some of the fluff."
Trapp said he understands residents' frustration. "Being a victim of a crime that doesn't meet the threshold of what we're capable of responding to--that's not an easy answer to accept.
I get that, but it's reality," explained Trapp.
Next Tuesday night (May 1) is when the Lane County Budget Committee takes its first look at the sheriff's budget. That includes a public hearing at 7:30 at Harris Hall in Eugene.