Burns deals with budget cuts

Posted on June 20th in News

Reed-Nickerson named to fill council vacancy

By Randy Parks
Burns Times-Herald

Faced with decreasing revenues, the city of Burns is dealing with the difficult task of making budget cuts, including cuts regarding public safety.

At their regular meeting on Wednesday, June 13, the Burns City Council was presented with four options, marked A, B, C and D, on the police force budget. Option A includes funding all positions in the department at the current level at a cost of $374,734 and placing $61,242 in the contingency fund.

Option D, recommended by the budget committee, cuts one position in the department, reducing expenses to $311,665 and placing $124,311 in the contingency fund.

The other two options, B and C, would fund all current positions, but would include reduced hours for one of the officers. The council decided that those two options weren’t really viable as the city couldn’t do a contract for the reduced hours, making that person a part-time, at-will employee.

Councilor Martin Thompson asked how quickly the contingency fund gets “gobbled up,” and City Clerk Dauna Wensenk said that in the past the fund was usually around $200,000, and they were trying to get it back to that level.

After some discussion, the council directed City Manager (CM) Don Munkers to implement Option D while preparing the final budget.

To give the council time to discuss the budget with Option D in it, they agreed to hold a special meeting at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 27, which is an hour before their regular meeting time.

Mayor Craig LaFollette read a letter from Leighton (Linc) Reed-Nickerson of Harney County Radio expressing an interest in filling the vacancy on the council created by the resignation of Amanda Benton.

The letter stated that Reed-Nickerson had been a resident of Burns for one year.

The council appointed Reed-Nickerson to fill the vacancy; he was sworn in and took his seat on the council.

Dwight Ausmus was in attendance to ask permission to set off the 4th of July fireworks show.

Ausmus said it looks like they will break even this year on the cost of the show, but donations are always welcome.

The council agreed to give Ausmus permission to proceed with the fireworks show.
CM Munkers reported that the bids received for the cemetery fence were all over budget, so he talked with Public Works Director Dave Cullens about his crew doing the work with the city reimbursing that department for the work.

Munkers stated that by having the city purchase the industrial-strength aluminum fence and having the Public Works do the installation, the cost would be about $22,000 to $23,000, or about $15,000 less than the bids.

The council voted to have Munkers go ahead with the purchase of the fence and have Public Works install it. The fence will replace the old fencing along Highway 20.

In other business:

• CM Munkers informed the council that the city is working on installing a new generator at the airport that is large enough to power the whole airport should there be a power outage. He added that they are still moving forward on the fire suppression system at the airport;

• Councilor Terri Holt told the council that there had been no airport committee meetings because she had received no letters of interest for serving on the committee, and other committee appointments needed to be made as well. She also thanked all the volunteers who put the flags out for Memorial Day;

• CM Munkers said they had received a bid for tree and stump removal at the cemetery. The work includes removing 10 trees, some of which are among the largest in the cemetery. Councilor Dan Hoke said two or three of the trees are along the highway, so there may be a “shock factor” to the public. The council approved the bid in the amount of $7,300.

The next council meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 27, at city hall.

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