Mayor Holthusen was absent from the Oct. 1st City Council study session and meeting. While the cat’s away the mice will play. Though the scene was hardly one of anarchy – there was definitely a different “vibe” to the meetings. There was more unchecked talking among audience members during the meetings and most humorously the council dubbed acting Mayor Bill Kyle “President Kyle” for the duration. Kyle accepted the teasing good naturedly. Mike Curry, Jackson County’s emergency management program manager, gave a presentation on emergency management. Key points from his presentation included information on reverse 911 calls and the H1N1 virus.
Curry advised that very soon folks with cell phones will be able to enter their home location in a grid via the internet. Presently, when you call 911 from your home land line your location is automatically known. Also through land lines you can be notified of evacuations in your area. With so many people having only cell phones these days the grid system was created to allow these benefits to be extended to cell only users. Curry advised that when the internet site is up and ready it will be “well publicized” so folks will know to log on and submit their information.
Regarding H1N1 Curry stressed that this is “just the flu” and most folks, though sick, won’t be affected by it any differently than with any other seasonal virus. The notable difference with H1N1 is the “high risk” demographic. Most “risky” viruses affect the elderly and those in delicate health. H1N1 however more deeply affects pregnant women and those in their teens to mid 20s. These folks will be considered “high priority” when the vaccine is available (this too will be “highly publicized”) and Curry recommends this group take advantage of the vaccine.
Should H1N1 become a local concern health clinics will be set up and folks will be asked to go to the clinics vs. the ER to avoid infecting emergency medical staff.
Following Curry’s presentation the council returned to their previous session’s discussion on local law enforcement. Councilors Hughes and Bradburn presented the results of their “home work” assignments regarding the contract with Sheriff vs. re-build PD issue.
Hughes worked out the budget for contracting through the 2011 budget. 2010 would be the costliest year as the city would have to purchase two new police vehicles that year. For 2010 the total for three deputies and 0.1 Sergeant would be $581,344; for 2011 the cost would be $528,541. By comparison the current amount budgeted for Police (fiscal year ’09 – ’10) is $546,300 – this is for one chief, three officers and seasonal officers (number not specified).
The purchase of the new vehicles may or may not be a negotiable item if the city contracts with the sheriff’s department. The entire discussion regarding vehicle purchase was the equivalent of the most mind bending algebraic word problem you’ve ever encountered. The upshot: with the sheriff contract vehicles must be purchased in total in 2010. Additionally monies must be put aside as “savings” for future replacement vehicles. When vehicles next need replacing the budget won’t go up as in 2010 because they will be paid for out of that “savings” – makes 2010 the hard hitting year.
If the city chooses to re-build the police department, new vehicles would also be in the next budget. These would be leased – so similar cost long term vs. a “big hit” in a single fiscal year.
Council Bradburn reported on the steps to re-build the police department. Put together, it’s a pretty substantial stair case. The total process could take up to one year and would include soliciting applicants, multiple back ground checks, interviews, medical/psych evaluations and 12 weeks of field training. This for lateral hires, the process is more complex for entry level candidates.
No decisions were made either way; in their next study session the council will discuss all the pros and cons of each option. All agreed that a decision needs to be made with some speed – but they also agreed they want to make a well informed and thought out decision.
Also discussed in the study session was a proposed resolution encouraging School District 9 to build a sidewalk around the school. The council decided to have the resolution written up for an evening vote.
With only this and one other resolution as new business for the evening meeting there was plenty of time to discuss the topic brought forward under the “Public Comment” portion of the agenda.
With only one citizen (and one reporter) present at the start of the evening meeting, councilors likely thought the “PC” portion would fly by. However Bud Rees took his allotted 3 minutes to pass on the challenge issued by our very own Editor Nancy Leonard in her Editorial of 9/29. Rees entered the letter (individual copies for each council member) into the record of the meeting and advised council he had invited Senators Merkley and Wyden to attend an Open House in Shady Cove to learn more of the City’s water related issues (he has not yet received a reply). Rees feels the city and citizens should try to get “as much money as possible” of the $8 million available per the 9/24 press release.
City Administrator Elise Smurzynski advised a couple of grant applications have been submitted approximately 3 months ago and per her last contact the “outlook was bleak”. Councilor Hughes noted he didn’t recall the city applying for any water grants. Public Works Manager George Bostic advised they had applied for one for certain.
“President Kyle” felt the City should “apply, apply, apply” for any and all possible grants, fearing if they only applied occasionally the City’s water crisis would “not be taken seriously”.
Bostic noted that some grants were available only for projects that are “shovel ready”. Kyle advised he felt they should apply regardless – again to emphasize the urgency of the city’s needs. Bostic advised they would submit another application for the aforementioned grant.
Will Senators Merkley and Wyden reply to Rees? Only time will tell if one man’s invite can accomplish a Senatorial visit.
On a tourism note, Elise presented a copy of a magazine published in Bend and titled “The Best of Southern Oregon”. Several local spots were mentioned, but Phil’s Frosty took the cake – er ice cream – with a full page photo and the title “Best Ice Cream”! Elise has ordered 2 boxes of the magazine so copies will hopefully be available from City Hall soon.
The council voted unanimously (4/0 with the absent Mayor) on two resolutions. First authorizing the transfer of funds from the “contingency” section of the sewer and street fund for the purchase of two new vehicles for the Public Works department (Murphy’s Law – all city vehicles are declining at the same time). Second the aforementioned resolution requesting D9 to build a sidewalk. Councilor Hughes will personally present the signed resolution at the next district meeting.
By Christy Pitto
Of the Independent