Eugene City Council considers possible payroll tax

If it becomes a reality, the money would be used to hire dozens of new police officers and add other services.

Posted: Feb 13, 2019 11:00 PM
Updated: Feb 13, 2019 11:18 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- A Eugene committee is recommending a first-of-its-kind payroll tax that could raise tens of millions of dollars for public safety.

If it becomes a reality, the money would be used to hire dozens of new police officers and add other services.

The committee was appointed by the city back in November and looked at 25 different ideas to raise money.

In the end, they decided a payroll tax makes the most sense.

Last year the Eugene City Council approved $8.6 million in public safety funding, but that will run out in June of 2020.

City officials said they need about $23 million every year to address the city's crime and other public safety needs.

Two-thirds of that money would go to Eugene Police, which would hire 40 new patrol officers plus sergeants and lieutenants.

The rest of the money would go to the city's courts, homeless services and the fire department.

So, how would this work?

In this model, both employees and employers would have to pay.

In one example that was given at the city council work session on Wednesday, a company with a gross payroll of $500,000 would pay $85 a month on a rate of .2 percent.

If the rate were .3 percent, the bill would be $125 a month.

For employees, if you make $20 an hour, you would pay $7 dollars a month or $10 dollars a month, again depending on the rate.

"I think this is the best choice; you heard what we went through and I really am supportive of this," said Eugene City Councilor Emily Semple. "It's one tax; it's not a cobbled together selection."

The council didn't make any decision on Wednesday and won't for several weeks.

Eugene residents can expect public hearings on this matter as well.

The city council has the authority to do this on their own and would not have to put the tax to a public vote.

However, councilors may consider putting it before voters anyway.

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