March 29, 2010


Share this article! PERS bill mounts Local governments and agencies participating in Oregon’s Public Employees Retirement System will have to significantly increase their PERS contributions to make up for the 2008 market decline. Employers will have to pay a total of over $1 billion in additional employer pension contributions. “The market downturn dug a huge … Read more

PERS bill mounts

Local governments and agencies participating in Oregon’s Public Employees Retirement System will have to significantly increase their PERS contributions to make up for the 2008 market decline.

Employers will have to pay a total of over $1 billion in additional employer pension contributions.

“The market downturn dug a huge hole in PERS that needs to be made up,” said Brenda Wilson, the city of Eugene’s intergovernmental relations manager and PERS consultant to the Oregon League of Cities. “Even though there were positive earnings last year, the hole is bigger than that. Not every single employer will see a rate increase, but the vast majority of them will.”

The increase will cost Oregon governments participating in PERS a total of more than $1 billion in additional employer pension contributions, according to information provided by PERS after public-records requests from the Statesman Journal. To cover that expense, cuts to classrooms, parks, libraries and myriad other community services will have to be considered. Some local governments might lay off workers.

Read the full story at the Statesman Journal.

Where to plug in?

With the Nissan Leaf set to launch in Oregon this year, a survey asks where hundreds of electric-car charging stations should be installed.

400-500 stations are being planned for the Portland, Salem, Corvallis and Eugene areas.

[David Mayfield, the Portland-based EV project manager], wants to get suggestions on station locations from people who plan on buying the first Leafs. The likely car buyers can share their views by e-mailing him or participating in an online survey.

“I would very much like to have people who are signing up for the Leaf to contact me and tell me where they think — with their traveling behavior — where they would be likely to plug in a public space,” he said.

Read the full story at The Register-Guard.

Foreclosures take toll

Jackson County residents and homebuilders still have no relief from their ongoing foreclosure struggles.

The county is tied with Columbia County for the state’s third-highest rate of foreclosures per housing unit, with one in every 367 homes in facing foreclosure.

“We are in the trenches right now,” [said Kerrie Davis, community education and outreach coordinator for the not-for-profit Rogue Federal Credit Union]. “So many people have been working with lenders for the past year, and they have just hit the wall.”

Now, with 2,500 adjustable rate mortgages coming due this year, the problem will likely get worse before it gets better, she said.

Read the full story at the Mail Tribune.

McKenzie tourism pushed

While the McKenzie River Valley is known for its natural beauty, its tourism pull doesn’t hold up as well as other Lane County attractions.

Tourism officials are hoping to change that with a new plan to organize the area’s businesses and communities and promote its many activities.

Officials from the Lane County Department of Community & Economic Development and Travel Lane County have organized a meeting this week to launch the newly formed McKenzie River Tourism Committee. Part of the group’s charge will be to implement some of the recommendations made last year by a consultant who studied the McKenzie’s tourism strengths and weaknesses.

Among the recommendations in the Visitor Readiness Report: Settle on a single name to identify the region; considering splitting the river corridor into two regions, the Upper McKenzie and Lower McKenzie; do a better job promoting the McKenzie River Trail; highlight the two covered bridges in the region (and consider re-painting Goodpasture Bridge something other than white); standardize signage along Highway 126; and develop a pocket-sized activities guide.

Read the full story at The Register-Guard.

Land-care services sprout

Competition in the land-care industry has quickly grown in the Bay Area, with cheap services from new businesses making it harder for established businesses to keep up.

The simplicity of starting a land-care service has made it easy for unemployed people to jump into the profession.

Landscape maintenance is one of the few trades not currently regulated by the state. That means anyone with a lawn mower and shears can easily set up a business, as long as they stick to mowing, trimming and general upkeep. Not even insurance is required.

There are now dozens of land-care providers in the Bay Area.

Read the full story at The World Link.




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