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Split vote adds offices for council.

Byline: Edward Russo The Register-Guard

Eugene City Councilors aren't paid very much and have little in the way of City Hall office space.

At least one aspect of that will change because councilors on Monday approved a budget with money to create council offices in City Hall and money to hire a staff person.

The money almost wasn't included in the city's $495 million budget. It took a tie-breaking vote by Mayor Kitty Piercy to authorize spending $70,000 to create office space for councilors, plus $65,000 for an office person.

The 5-4 vote split the council along political lines. More conservative councilors didn't want to spend the money, while the more liberal councilors thought it made sense.

Councilors share a room at City Hall to meet with constituents. Most of the time, they conduct city business at home, with phone and computer expenses reimbursed.

Some councilors said they needed a better place at City Hall to conduct their duties. They said they could use staff help in dealing with constituent requests.

"I don't think I am serving my constituents well when I spend a lot of time filing papers and trying to make appointments," Councilor David Kelly said. "If I had administrative support to do that, I could spend a heck of lot more time meeting" with constituents "and advancing the interests of the city."

But Councilor Chris Pryor said he will not use council offices if they are built. "I would just as soon spend the money to buy a play structure" for a city park or asphalt to patch potholes, he said.

Pryor said councilors would be tempted to manage city operations if they spend a lot of time at City Hall. "It's important for me not to cross that line," he said.

Councilor Jennifer Solomon attempted to delete the money from the city's proposed budget. Pryor and councilors George Poling and Gary Pape supported her. Voting to keep the money in the budget were Kelly and councilors Betty Taylor, Bonny Bettman and Andrea Ortiz.

The budget, approved 8-0, includes new spending, including: $190,000 for audible crossing signals at 25 intersections; $160,000 to expand Safe and Sound programs for troubled youth; $145,000 for Boys and Girls Club programs at Westmoreland Community Center; $75,000 so Downtown Eugene Inc. can hire two downtown guides; and $50,000 on a safety study at Golden Gardens Park.

Councilors also reaffirmed the city's pledge to protect human rights, and they reviewed a Measure 37 request by Lane Plywood to waive city building regulations for its property in West Eugene.
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Title Annotation:Government; Councilors vote along political lines for $70,000 for office space and $65,000 for an office worker
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jun 13, 2006
Words:432
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