Tale of three taxes: Some Eugene voters face a levy, a bond and a fee

Tale of three taxes: Some Eugene voters face a levy, a bond and a fee

EUGENE, Ore. - Some voters in Eugene will decide on three money measures on the May 21 ballot: a tax levy for the Lane County Jail, a City of Eugene service fee and a Eugene 4J School District bond.

For households inside all three districts, the measures add up to about $245 per year - $42 for schools, $83 for public safety and $120 for city fees.

That combination has at least one city councilor feeling a little nervous.

"There is some concern, you know, it's competing interests," said Councilor George Poling.

Poling thinks this might be a case of election overload with county, city and the school district all asking the voters for money in the same election.

"Right now is a bad time I think to ask people to put more of their limited income into serial levies, bond measures and whatever else is out there," Poling said.

City Councilor Alan Zelenka disagrees.

"While it's a tough lift for some people, I think for a lot of people this is affordable, this is modest enough," he said.

The City measure seeks a new fee on households and businesses to fill a projected budget gap.

The County measure would fund more jail beds and juvenile detention facilities.

The school measure puts $170 million toward new schools.

"So it's been a long process and it really made sense for us to go forward at this point," said Jennifer Geller, chair of the Eugene School Board.

Eugene bond measures have done quite well in the recent past, including a couple of street repair bonds. 

Poling said the May election is a different situation.

"It's going to be a tough sell to get all three of them passed," Poling siad. "I hope they do, but who knows what the voters are going to do at the end of the day."

Zelenka thinks it won't be hard to sell the city fee and school bond to voters.

"The two of them talk about quality of life and education in this community and what kind of city we want to live in," he said, "and I think they complement each other."