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The New Era Paper
Sweet Home, Oregon
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May 9, 2012     The New Era Paper
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May 9, 2012
 

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Page 4 Tile , rn - May 9, 2012 -- COMMUNITY OPINION From /'// . . s Jah "2)I" aill.  ,..,j"   .1.  t.,| 1. A recent .case of two lO-year I old boys using money stolen from their homes to purchase BB guns has prompted police to suggest that , a city ordinance is passed prohib- iting the purchase of BB guns to C)  Up a(he..  ,.  . '!  youths under the age of 14. R00,nep,/Appro,4al {// t IT The youths purchased four . p'C)C,'.  )II g$:l'ha'ting $41 "80' frm a lcal d: 'C)2.__ ft'fl't'    Gerald James Sherman, of Eu- dm;7" ', : I gene, died Monday when his late-  model station wagon plunged into the Santiam River off of Highway 20, about 14 miles east of Sweet --__  Home. The incident occurred at about 6 a.m., but the car was not spotted until 7:55 a.m. when a passer by had noticed skid marks that led off the road. Jim Hanlon, son of Mr. and Mrs. Hanlon, has been awarded his third straight Oregon Science fair gold medal for'his "spectrographic analy- sis" project. His first year winning, as a freshman, he built a steam en- gine model. As a sophmore he won with a 6-inch reflecting telescope. May 13, 1987 Misty Parker, of Sweet Home, will be representing Oregon in the annual Miss Hemisphere Pageant in Miami Beach Florida. Cooler temperatures, and steady rainfall Monday evening, helped the State Department of Forestry con- trol an 18,850-acre Calapooia fire that had burned since Friday. The fire is about 12 miles south- east of Sweet Home. At this time it is the largest fire in the nation. City right to D,, t'00ght in tough times Sweet Home's proposed city budget for 2012-13 is tighter than it has been in recent years, but we think it should be even more so, especially in light of the disaster mode the city entered last fall. We're talking about a tiny por- tion of a $22 million budget, some $156,000, approximately .7 percent of the budget. Overall, the budget, as it stands after approval by the Budget Com- mittee (see pages 1,9 and 12) funds traditional, ongoing services, and even that cuts service levels a little with the elimination of 3.5 full-time equivalent positions, including a police officer, dispatcher, building clerk and library assistant. The budget also eliminates an important traditional transfer to the building reserve fund. The build- ing fund will be used to construct a new City Hall when the time comes, without asking voters for a general obligation bond levy. We like that. The city is saving the money from r_.DIT,00 00RIAL existing tax revenues so it won't have to ask for more. We think this is a prudent use of city funds. Thus, we regret the cut but we recognize the necessity this year. Also in this year's budget are 3-percent wage increases for city. employees, the majority of which are based on a contract. Non-union employees, primarily supervisors and department heads, will also receive the raise upon receiving a positive evaluation. We agree with Bidget "Com- mittee members, inchding coun- cil members Greg Ylahler and Scott McKee, who want to freeze the wages of non-represented em- ployees this yar. They're sug- gesting this because the reality, is that we're all living in tough times right now and it sends the wrong message for city employees to be A locally owned newspaper founded Sept. 27, 1929 Scott and Miriam Swanson, Co-Publishers www.sweethomenews.com - Office: 1313 MainSt., Sweet Home, Oregon Mailing address: The New Era, Box 39, Sweet Home, OR, 97386 Phone: (541) 367-2135 Fax: (541) 367-2137 WHO WE ARE Scott Swanson, Editor/Co-Publisher scott@sweethomenews.corn Sean C. Morgan, Staff Writer sean@sweethomenews.com Miriam Swanson, Advertising Manager, Co-Publisher miriam@sweethomenews.com Christy Keeney, Classified Ads classifieds@sweethomenews.com Firiel Sevems, Advertising Sales firiel@sweethomenews.com The New Era (USPS 379-100)is published each Wednesday. Periodical postage paid at the Sweet Home, Ore., 97386 Post Office. Postmaster: Please send address changes to The New Era, Box 39, Sweet Home, Oregon 97386 SUBSCRIPTIONS In Linn County: $32 Elsewhere: $40 Snowbird: $38 NEWS QUESTIONS/TIPS Call (541) 367-2135 or e-mail newssweethomenews.com collecting increases when a lot of other people are looking at bills and job listings. Folks throughout the commu- nity are making the same or less than they made in 2007 prior to the economic meltdown at the end of that year. City employees and many others in the public sector have continued to receive regular wage increases since then. Not all of them, though. School District 55 personnel have had to accept wage freezes since then, and their unions have agreed to wage freezes recog- nizing the even more difficult bud- get position the district faces. The non-represented employ- ees' raises will cost the city about $26,000, we're told in the report on page one. That certainly is a tiny amount compared to the entire bud- get, but neither city nor we should forget how substantial $26,000 ac- tually is. It is around enough to restore the part-time library assistant posi- tion. Thecity is no longer flush with money. It is difficult to defend rais- es for city employees at this time. The City Council should freeze the wages.that it can, although it should take into serious consideration Po- lice Chief Burford's request that his department's supervisors do receive the raises. With the elimination of one position and the departure of three police officers for another depart-- ment, police supervisors are hold- ing the department together, work- ing their shifts and then remaining on call during their off hours; all while making less than patrol of- ficers in some other departments. We want them to stick around and we need to give serious thought to giving them every reason to that we can. We respect the department heads who have voluntarily taken freezes in the past. That willing- ness demonstrates their good faith even proposing the raises this year, but this is another good time for them to demonstrate that good faith and save the small amount to ensure that service levels are pre- served. Let's not forget that the Police Levy Fund is going to be in the red in just,a couple of years without some kind of transfer from the General Fund or cuts in service levels. City officials are proud of their ability to save on minutiae throughout the year. Let's save this money too. As for city employees work- ing under union contracts, we're not suggesting they follow the lead of their counterparts in the school system, but common sense dictates that now is a good time to look for ways to save us, the citizens, mon- ey whenever possible. Former committee member and Mayor Dave Holley told the WRITE A LETTER We encourage readers to express their opinions in letters to the editor on matters of public interest. Letters should be typed and may be submitted by mail, e-mail, fax or in person at The New Era office. E-mailed letters may be sent to news@sweethomenews.com. Please include a telephone number in case we need to contact you. Also, we require that you include your name and city of residence or your letter will not be published. '- There is no length restriction, but letters may be edited for length and all letters will be edited for libelous content. We discourage letters that attack or complain about private citizens or businesses on a personal level. Also, letters containing comments on topics deemed by the editorial staff to have been exhausted in previous letters will be edited accordingly. committee that the city needs to se riously look at changing the way it does insurance, capping the city's contribution to the premium. Right now, the city pays 95 percent of in- surance premiums. We agree. It's time for the city to make something work there. The costs are rising. Citizens are seeing benefits reduced as employers are unable to keep up with the rising cost of premiums. The other $130,000 we think should be cut is a water filling sta- tion that will provide bulk water to customers 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The reasoning behind the sta- tion is that it would be a Source of potable water during an emergency, it would help reduce theft of water, it would help control against con- taminants, prevent the breakage of hydrants and it would actually raise revenues for the city. The funds to pay for it are restricted to new con- struction and expansion of the wa- ter system. The water filling station is un- necessary, and the funds can be saved, collecting interest, until such time asthe city needs them for more traditional water projects rather than increasing water rates or SDCs to cover projects at a future time. All of the city's goals in building this facility can be achieved with a backflow prevention device, pumps and a meter on an existing hydrant. The city already requires a backflow prevention device when people access hydrants for bulk water. It merely needs to continue to insist on it or use staff, billing the customer for the time, to ensure it is used properly and that a hydrant is not broken. In an emergency, the filling station faces the same danger as any hydrant or other source of city water throughoui the community. It is just as likely to be out of service. The filling station will do nothing to help reduce theft of water, some- thing city officials acknowledge may not be that big a problem. See Editorial, page 5