The City of Eagle Point management met with employees on Mar. 4 to talk to them about reductions under consideration for the 2009-10 budget year, which begins July 1. The anticipated reductions reflect the downturn in the economy and in revenue to the city.
The recommended reductions eliminate five positions. A sixth position will not be filled. Positions include a total of three in the police department, two in administration and one in public works. This represents an 18 percent overall decrease in staffing for the city.
City Administrator Dave Hussell said a city in Oregon the size of Eagle Point, which has a population of 8,730, normally has a staff of 50. Before the staff reduction, Eagle Point had a staff of 34. With the changes they will be reduced to 28.
In addition to staff reductions, outline cuts include reduced operating hours at Harnish Information Center and at the Eagle Point Museum; closing city hall during lunch hour; running the court half time; reducing the building department to half time (this has already happened); and minor changes in the utility billing cycle.
The city will no longer be able to support the city’s portion of the crossing guard positions at Royal and Main and Main and Shasta. The city does expect to continue to provide a school resource officer at Eagle Point High School.
The 2009-10 budget does not include salary increases.
The General Fund houses staffing, including administration, courts, building, planning, police, parks, recreation and general facilities maintenance. Project areas such as streets and water are funded separately by law and can continue as outlined and approved by the city council, said Hussell. Therefore, budgeted items such as major improvements in the city water system and the improvement of the Royal and Main intersection are on schedule to continue.
Although there has been a reduction in the number of police officers, Police Chief Dave Strand said the department will continue to provide 24-7 patrol with policing services throughout the community.
Recreation programs such as summer day camp and Jr Eagles are expected to continue. They are self sustaining.
There will be reductions in service levels in parks and in building, planning and administration. If budget reductions become part of the 2009-10 budget, citizens are asked to continue to work with the city and remain patient.
“The city has been fortunate to delay any major cuts in personnel or services until the later half of this year,” said Hussell. He said the staff will be looking at options in terms of revenue increases and if the economy changes and allows Eagle Point to continue to develop, the city would work toward adding personnel back to the current levels.
The city council, although remaining concerned with potential budget reductions, feels very optimistic regarding the future goals and projections for Eagle Point, said Hussell.
Hussell said, “At this point this is a concept. It is important to keep our staff informed. Actual decision on the budget will be made as part of the budget committee and city council process during public budget meetings in May and June.”
By Nancy Leonard
Of the Independent