State funding for new Eugene YMCA in jeopardy

Millions of dollars in state funds slated to help build a new YMCA in Eugene might be in jeopardy because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Posted: Jul 9, 2020 10:31 AM
Updated: Jul 9, 2020 11:15 AM

EUGENE, Ore. – Millions of dollars in state funds slated to help build a new YMCA in Eugene might be in jeopardy because of the coronavirus pandemic.

State legislators blame a big drop in revenue from the state lottery for killing more than $270 million in bond sales to fund major projects, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday.

Fifteen million dollars from those bond sales had been set aside to help build a new YMCA at the intersection of 24th Avenue and Hilyard Street.

But in order to sell bonds, the state has to show a 4-to-1 ratio between forecast Lottery Fund revenue and the amount of debt in the bonds. The lottery said earlier this month that sales for April were off by 90% compared to the year before. The loss has left the state with a Lottery Fund bonding ratio of just over 3-to-1, too low to proceed.

Brian Steffen, Eugene YMCA chief executive officer, said there is still a chance they will get the money from the state when the debt ratio is reevaluated, and even if not, they will find other ways to keep the project going.  

“This absolutely does not kill our project. We remain committed to building a new YMCA here in Eugene because we know it will transform the health and relationships and confidence of thousands of individuals for the next generation,” Steffen said.

Steffen said the total cost of a new facility is $37 million, but declined to say how much the YMCA has already raised towards that goal.

“We understand that this is a significant deviation from our plan. But we’re grateful that our legislators are being wise stewards of resources and being thoughtful and we remain committed to them and we know they have a strong commitment to this impact in our community,” Steffen said.

Plans were in place to break ground on the new YMCA facility in 2021. Steffen said it’s too early to know how this news will affect that plan.

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