Resident brings issues to council
by Randy Parks
The city of Burns should have a new city manager in place by this summer.
At their regular meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 28, the Burns City Council approved the hiring procedures and job announcement as prepared by the city’s legal counsel, Jeremy Green.
The tentative schedule for the hiring process is to begin the hiring process Feb. 1, start the screening process March 31, begin background checks and committee interviews April 15, begin sending letters of rejection and schedule an interview with the finalists May 1, select the preferred candidate June 1, and have the new city manager begin work in July or August.
There was some concern by the council on the amount of time the process takes, and Green explained that the time line can always be shortened if the council deems it necessary.
The council also expressed interest in having someone from the community on the screening committee, and Green concurred with the suggestion.
The council approved Ordinance No. 15-832, establishing time, place and manner regulations concerning medical marijuana dispensaries.
Green stated the ordinance is a “living document” because new legislation may be passed regarding the dispensaries and that would precipitate changes in the ordinance.
The council discussed a pending resolution to establish fees for medical marijuana dispensaries. Green said he had checked the fees of other cities, and felt the city of Burns should establish comparable fees.
John Chambers was in attendance to discuss several issues with the council. Chambers said that he, and others, have a problem with the “urban deer herds,” and the risks they pose to the community. He cited safety risks to people, domestic animals and vehicles, and said some form of action needs to be taken by the city to mitigate the risks for the benefit of the residents.
Mayor Craig LaFollette stated he didn’t want it to seem like he was “passing the buck,” but he recommended Chambers speak with Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), as the city has no jurisdiction over the deer.
Chambers said he had talked with ODFW and was told they can’t capture and transplant the deer because the urban deer may spread disease to the wild herds, and because of the in-breeding occurring in town.
Chambers said he has spent a lot of money on landscaping, and the deer have destroyed about half of the plants.
“I can’t shoot them. Well, I could, but that would be illegal,” Chambers said. “There are a lot of people that are fed up with the deer problem.”
He suggested the council set up a committee to formulate solutions.
Chambers then questioned why the owner of a home or business is responsible for the sewer line from the structure to the main line? He suggested it be changed from the structure to the right-of-way, as most problems occur at the connection between the service line and the main line.
“Why would we do that?” asked LaFollette. “Why would we take on that financial responsibility?”
“Because I’m asking you to,” replied Chambers.
Public Works Director Dave Cullens said if the city took over that responsibility, there would have to be a sewer rate increase to cover the cost.
Chambers then stated his concerns about truck traffic through the city on Broadway and Monroe streets. He suggested trucks be re-routed around town because of safety concerns.
“Take the truck traffic off those roads,” he said.
Chambers also said there is problem with CenturyLink in the community, but he would address that issue at a later date.
Nick Collins, president of Harney County Little League, told the council the organization is working on a project to expand the baseball facilities on West Pierce, with the goal of hosting a Little League Tournament.
Collins said the event would bring in anywhere from 30-35 teams for a week, and other towns that hosted the event brought in about $100,000 revenue.
Collins said he is trying to raise funds for the project, and wasn’t asking the city for a donation, but rather a sponsorship and support.
“It’s a community thing,” Collins said. “The kids use the fields, and we’d like to have one facility where boys and girls of all ages could be playing at the same time.”
He said the organization needs fencing for the project, and asked about the city helping with that.
City Clerk Dauna Wensenk stated there is fencing at the airport, and the city needs some of it for a project, but not necessarily all of it.
“I don’t know how much fencing you need, but let’s say we had 250 feet of it. Could you use that?” LaFollette asked.
“We’ll take anything you can give us,” Collins said, and added they would probably need about 2,500 for the entire project.
Councilor Dan Hoke said he’d like the city to help out “in-kind.” He suggested maybe the public works crew could help the volunteers on a schedule type basis.
Cullens said the city has, in the past, donated the red cinders and bladed the area. The city also donates the water.
In other business:
• the council approved Resolution No. 15-594, authorizing C&B Sanitary Service to increase its service rates under the solid waste franchise agreement;
• the council scheduled a workshop for 6 p.m. Monday Feb. 16, to discuss several topics, including the ordinance that governs the council for the benefit of new councilors, the current condition of city streets and solutions to the deterioration, and the water and sewer fund;
• Mayor LaFollette appointed Ted Marshall, Curt Blackburn, councilors Lou Ann Deiter and Terri Presley, and the three city office staff members to the Flood Ordinance Prevention committee;
• LaFollette said at a previous meeting, a resident made reference to the ethics of the council. He stated if someone has an issue with ethics, the state has a government ethics commission that residents can write to or call.
The next council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 11, at city hall.