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La Grande Observer Paper 07/23/14

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Home arrow Opinion arrow Our View arrow TREE, ANIMAL PROGRAMS DESERVE FUNDING


Winter's brown giving way to green, baseball, rain showers and flowers are all signs that spring has sprung. But in La Grande, another rite of spring has evolved over the past few years — the Urban Forestry Program's need to justify its existence to city budget planners. Considering how La Grande's trees have set this community apart from others in Eastern Oregon, the forestry program deserves a permanent line item in the budget.

And the same goes for the city's contributions to the Blue Mountain Humane Association animal shelter and the county's animal control program.

Every year these three programs — all of which contribute to

La Grande's livability — have to fight their way back into the budget. The city always finds a way after some shuffling of funds, but the time has come for the city to acknowledge the importance of these programs by finding a way to fund them and making them part of the budget.

La Grande would be remiss to scale back its tree program after making the urban forest a priority for nearly two decades. The program has resulted in a more beautiful city, more trees in the public right of way, healthier trees and the removal of dead and diseased trees. Ask any visitor what they remember most about La Grande, and most will say it's the trees. Let's face it. Without them, we'd be just another Pendleton.

The animal shelter and animal control go hand in hand, and each needs the $5,000 the city has provided in the past. Needless to say, the bulk of animal control's activities are centered in La Grande. And without the animal shelter, there would be no place to take stray pets. Considering the fact the city doesn't have an animal control officer or an animal shelter, it would be shirking its responsibilities if it failed to provide some level of funding for these programs.

A stable funding source for including all three programs in the budget should be the city's goal. Last week the budget committee in a tie vote turned down a proposal for a 3 percent to 5 percent boost in the franchise fee paid by City Garbage Service. Such an increase would be passed on to customers, but it would not be out of line to have each household in La Grande chip in 50 or 60 cents a month to help ensure these programs' continued existence.

Imagine what La Grande would be without healthy trees, an animal shelter or animal control. The programs deserve annual funding.

Editorials in this column are the opinion of The Observer's editorial board. The board is comprised of Ron Horton, publisher; Ted Kramer, editor; Jeff Petersen, news editor; and Pierre LaBossierre, wire editor. Letters from readers, signed columns on this page and cartoons represent the opinions of the writer/artist and do not necessarily reflect the position of the editorial board.

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