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Big Neighborhood Confab Here During Budget Cuts

More than 550 people will come to Eugene from across the U.S., Canada, the Netherlands and Japan to learn about community building, according to city neighborhood planner and conference planner Rene Kane. The conference comes to town as Eugene neighborhood leaders fret over proposed funding cuts to eighborhood services. Eugene will host the Neighborhoods USA (NUSA) conference May 21 to 24.

The Neighborhood Leaders Council mentioned the NUSA conference in a letter regarding potential cuts to neighborhood services that could eliminate funding for printed neighborhood newsletters, which was submitted to the Eugene City Council’s Budget Committee in April. The letter says it is important to maintain funding to neighborhood services to show the city’s commitment to neighborhood associations as a means of citizen involvement.

“Yet with the threat of these budget cuts to neighborhood services on the table,” the letter states, “conversations between local neighborhood leaders and visiting representatives will no doubt tend to bear upon these accumulated facts — the ‘powers-that-be’ have chosen to eliminate funding to the very means by which Eugene’s meritorious programs have achieved national recognition.”

The conference will consist of city tours, keynote speakers and workshops. Some workshops will be led by Eugeneans and some by people from other communities. Workshop topics include building a strong local sustainable food system, understanding the benefits and challenges of the presence of a higher learning institution and creating inclusive communities.

“The timing of this happening in Eugene at the same time that we’re inviting all these other neighborhood associations and local governments from all over the country is unfortunate,” says Edward Goehring, who is on the city’s Neighborhoods USA conference planning team.

Goehring wonders if the taxpayers are reflecting the same enthusiasm for neighborhood associations that the conference implies and if the decision-makers are reflecting what the taxpayers want. 

The conference will be held at the Hilton. Registration closed May 2. Tickets cost $225 and $100 for Lane County residents.

The Eugene City Council will have a public hearing about the budget at 7:30 pm Monday, June 9, and during the meeting they will also decide on the final FY 2015 General Fund budget and 2014 second supplemental budget.