Special elections will decide fate of Eugene school budgets

The ballots have gone out and Eugene voters will get the chance to vote on two different ballot measures and school board representatives for the special midterm elections.

Ballot measure 20-182 is the most pressing measure to appear on the ballot, as a “yes” vote will raise income taxes, and a “no” vote will not change anything.

The measure is asking for an estimated $24 million per year from residents to offset the funding gap that Eugene and Bethel school districts are facing. Schools would receive $16.8 million after tax collection costs and exemptions.

The tax would be applied to Oregon taxable income earned each year, from Jan. 1, 2011 to Dec. 31, 2014.

“I think this local temporary and modest income tax is simply a way we, as a community, can help regain instructional days and reduce class sizes while the state works on solutions to our funding issues,” Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy said during a city council meeting.

Opponents of the bill are not so sure the tax will be temporary.

“The politicians also stoutly made the same promise when it came to the temporary gas tax which continued beyond their broken promise to end it. The politicians also promised that the urban development tax district would be temporary, but they found a way to extend it,” said Jason Williams, executive director of the Taxpayer Association of Oregon.

The ballot will affect those Eugene residents who file a single tax return with an income of more than $11,000 and joint filers with a combined income of more than $22,000.

“We’re making sure people turn in their ballots, College Democrats Vice President Kate Nix said. “It’s an important election, and we want students to have a presence.”@@[email protected]@

Students can turn in their ballots at a white ballot box located next to the ASUO offices in the EMU.

Besides measure 20-182, there is one other measure, this one authorizing the Eugene School District 4J to finance capital improvement, including roofing, plumbing, heating, electrical and other maintenance-related upgrades.

These special elections will also determine four positions each on the two different school boards, Eugene 4J and Bethel.

These positions are for four-year terms, beginning in July 2011, with the exception of position two on the Bethel school board, which will be a two-year term.

Ballots for the election can be turned in at one of the 12 locations around the city until Tuesday, May 17, at 8 p.m. Ballots can also be sent in by mail.

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