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Sweet Home, Oregon
May 16, 2012     The New Era Paper
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May 16, 2012

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lTe f- r - May 16, 2012 VouR COMMUNITV Page ,5 II Schools From page 1 270. It's in the grasslands south of Gillette. he said. "I think there are probably more antelope than peo- ple." Barnhurst. who grew up in Junction City, lived in Montana for eight years, and he had family in Bozeman, he said. They also spent time in Cheyenne, Wyo., and he is familiar with the region. "Really, it's a family move," Barnhurst said: "I really hope peo- ple know that the move has nothing to do with Sweet Home." Rather. Wyoming schools have far more resources than Oregon schools, thanks to natural resource industries there, he said. Class sizes are smaller, and the schools have more specialists. His two children. the oldest almost 5. will soon start school, and he wants them to attend school there. It's a win-win for his family, he said. His wife is a PE and health teacher as well as a counselor. Both will receive higher sala- ries. H e praised School District 55 and Sweet Home. "I real- ly, truly feel blessed to be here." he Derek Barnhurst said. where he went to work at Sweet Home Junior High with Principal Hal Huschka. "One of the best things, person- ally, in my career was coming here and working with him." Barnhurst said. "I felt very welcome in this community. My wife has too. We've made some pretty good friends. There's things we'll miss for sure. It was a tough decision in some regards. We've enjoyed our time here." But working here has been tough too. "The toughest thing Fve ev- ery done is sit down with three people and tell them they don't have jobs," B arnhurst said. Every year has involved budget cuts, and he's looking forward to when talk- Ryan Beck mg about what's best for kids isn't in context of budget cuts. "It's a problem I can't fix." he said. It's not a Sweet Home issue. and it's not a School District issue. The number one thing is really the opportunity for their children. Beck. who grew up in Seattle and taught in Cottage Grove prior to being principal at Hawthorne. is taking a position at Creswelt. closer to his family. "I'11 miss this place." Beck said. "It's very bittersweet. I love Hawthorne." The staff and students are spec- tacular. Beck said. He has lived in Eugene for 22 years, he said. and his move will cut his commute from 50 to 14 min- utes. He'll work for a superintendent he already knows, he said. "'I'm really sad. personally," Beck said. "It's the most talented group of people I've ever worked with. I will miss the people, the dedicated staff and the kids. I won't mils the drive. Family is a priority." Photo by Sean C. Morgan That's a real herp John Shaver holds Nero. an American alligator, that was one of some 20 reptiles displayed during Hip on Herps, a presentation by the Sweet Home Junior High Reptile Club during its Parent Night Thursday, May 10. II Council From page 1 Pat Wood reminded the council that funds saved for employees in different departments cannot nec- essarily be used to bolster opera- tions in other departments, criti- cizing comparisons of the savmgs to the approximate cost of a part- time library assistant, one of which was cut in the proposed budget.. The raises are scheduled to match raises that will be granted to union-represented general city employees because of contractual obligations. The raises will add a 3-percent annual step to the salary schedule. Employees earn the raise based on a positive evaluation on the anniversary of their hire date, Police Department employees bar- gain separately with the city. Non- represented employees primarily include supervisors and depart- ment heads. The water filling station, at a budgeted cost of about $130,000. is proposed to be funded by mon- ey from systems development charges and water rates reserved for capital construction. The funds must be used for expansion proj- ects in the case of SDCs and new capital projects in the case of funds derived from utility rates. The water utility does not at this time include charges for the capital construction fund. Neither does the proposed rate for 2012- 13. The council also discussed possible ways to cut rising insur- ance costs. The city pays 95 per- cent of insurance premiums. Em- ployees pay 5 percent. If the council wants to do something different with insurance benefits, said City Manager Craig Martin, it will have to bring it up in the next bargaining session. "It's one of the reasons they choose to work here," Martin said. Other organizations pay more. but the insurance isn't as good, not including spouses or family mem- bers. "They appreciate that. They look at that." Once the difference in insur- ance premiums is included, the higher wages elsewhere may not really be that high, Martin said. "The only pay freeze you're OK to do would be the entire group of non-represented employ- ees." Mayor Craig Fentiman told the council. The raises help maintain par- ity with union employees and the differential in pay between em- ployees and supervisors, Martin said. The issues were raised by coun- cilors and Budget Committee mem- bers during the Budget Committee process completed on May 3. "If this was a COLA (cost- of-living adjustment), I would consider freezing that," Fentiman said. This is merit-based, and he would oppose a freeze. "If we had, last year. not tak- en $45,000 and given it to outside charities, we would be sitting in a better position than we're sit- ting in right now." Fentiman said. "My experience of 20-some years told me this was not a good idea I understand why you guys did it. I disagreed. That's the first time I voted against a budget in 20 years." CouncilOr Scott McKee Jr. said the committee and council approved that well before the city received tax information last fall indicating a revenue shortfall - when the council had "the fear of God put into us with the tax situ- ation." When circumstances are nor- mal. McKee said. the city should give the raises. He said this discussion has no bearing on whether employees de- serve the raises. It's an opportunity to save money, McKee said. Even $10,000 to $20,000 can make a difference. That's around the cost of roofing projects the city must complete this year at the library and the Jim Riggs Community Center, he said. "I don't want it to be twisted around to where we're saying employees are not doing a good job." "First of all. I personally struggle with increasing pay when I'm very much aware there are several entities surrounding us that have been frozen." said Councilor Marybeth Angulo. People are losing jobs and taking pay cuts, she said. School District employees are getting no- tices of reduced hours, and their pay is rozen. "I know it's well-deserved." she sai.. "I have a very, very dif- ficult time approving something, even When it's just a minute por- tion, when people around me are / struggling. I know from experi- ence it s a struggle. A lot of us are in that boat." She didn't ask for a $2.000 pay cut. and it's not looking good for next year either, said Angulo, who teaches at Oak Heights. Regarding the water filling station, Councilor Greg Mahler noted that it doesn't cost more than $ hydran at $13 He be use( the cit' and dis Pu Adams $130,0 and ba( also in( tomers as well differel proverr cess. Th 0.000 to fix or replace a , while the city is looking 000 for the filling station. realizes the funds cannot for law enforcement, but just cut a police officer ?atcher, Mahler said. 9lic Works Director Mike told the council that the )0 is not just for a meter kflow prevention device. It ludes a mechanism so cus- can pay instantly for water as a small stone building, tt connections, a road im- ent, a turnaround and ac- city could choose not to spend it and use it in the future On another project, Adams said. The use of the funds is "very specific" though, and he noted following the Budget Committee process that the city doesn't have any projects on the horizon for these funds. "We can wait for another proj- ect." Adams said. "At some point you have to start using the money in this system to make improve- ments." He also said that when a hy- drant breaks, the repair funds come from the operating budget, while this has no direct impact on the rate. The project also helps the city meet hazard mitigation goals, Fen- timan said. "We've had some really good conversations, but it's definitely not over yet," he said. suggesting a decision Tuesday night would have been rash. The council voted 6-0 to place the salary resolution on the agen- da for May 22. The council also asked to bring information about how hydrants are being used now to provide bulk water and what it might look like with the water fill- ing station, which Adams thinks could generate water revenue. Present at the meeting were Angudo. Mahler, Jim Gourley, Fentiman, McKee and Mike Hall. Councilor Ron Rodgers was ab- sent. In other business, the council adopted ordinances revising codes for variances and preventing the burial of human remains on pri- vate property. ECONOMY DRU. 6S Mon. - Fri.I 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. HPH SaturdaY l9 a.m.- I p.m. ( Bonnie Healy Bonnie Healy of Sweet Home volunteers with the Beautifica- tion Committee. Sweet Home Emergency Min- istries and the Manna Meal. She makes hats. scarves and baby blan- kets for different orga- nizations. She volunteers for "the smiles on people's faces," Healy said. She enjoys camping, walking and picking up litter in her spare time. She is married to Tim, and has lived in Sweet Home for six years. "I can't think of living anywhere else." Healy said. / A