Saturday, May 17, 2014

Crater Lake-Klamath Regional Airport ( KLMT) may operate without a director

Leaving two full-time positions unfilled and a projected dip in city revenue are some of the significant changes highlighted in the city of Klamath Falls’ proposed 2014-15 budget released Friday.

In order to fund pay increases for police under a collective bargaining agreement with the Teamsters union, the document proposes leaving one police officer position unfilled and reducing officer overtime pay by 10 percent, according to Klamath Falls City Manager Nathan Cherpeski. The city released a draft of its nearly $35 million budget, which shows a projected decrease of 5 percent compared with the 2013-14 budget, and forecasts a possible 7 percent dip in revenues in 2015.

Klamath Falls Police Chief Jim Hunter, who said he’s considering retirement in January 2015, is preparing for a proposed $5.4 million budget.

“I’m not going to lay anybody off,” Hunter told the Herald and News Friday afternoon.

“It’s going to be tight losing this position,” Hunter added, of the unfilled officer position. As result, Hunter said, “There could be a slight delay in response to non-emergency calls. It should have no effect to our response to emergency calls.”

Hunter said if the proposed budget is approved as is, code enforcement may help out with non-emergency calls to pick up any slack. He also emphasized the unfilled position is currently a proposal, and could be modified by the city’s budget committee Wednesday, when it meets at 9 a.m. at City Hall.

The police department isn’t the only department looking at proposed changes to personnel.

Crater Lake-Klamath Regional Airport Director John Longley, who plans to retire in October, may not be immediately replaced, as city staff consider restructuring airport administration, according to the budget summary. With air service by SkyWest ending at the airport June 4, the airport is slated to lose $127,000 in revenue. Longley said in a recent Herald and News story he felt his staff could handle airport administration tasks if he were away for up to a year.

“City staff continues to investigate alternative carriers, however, changes will need to be made in airport operations to account for the lost revenues,” Cherpeski said in his budget message.

The proposed changes come as a way for the city to tighten its financial belt, part of an effort by 2019 to cut $300,000 from its budget, according to the budget proposal. Cherpeski highlighted several city funds are experiencing financial pressures, and emphasized a need to bring expenditures in line with revenues.

“All departments will need to examine programs and practices to determine what provides the greatest value,” Cherpeski said. “This may lead to changes or eliminations of some programs as funds are shifted to higher value activities. Further personnel changes will likely need to occur in future years.”

Cherpeski said the city will continue a “soft” hiring freeze, with all vacant positions analyzed based on need before they are filled. He said the city hopes most changes in personnel can occur as individuals retire.

“To make changes and to determine the highest value activities, it will be essential to have open and honest discussions about how much value certain programs return to the citizens,” he said.

The city also announced it plans to continue operations at the Ella Redkey Pool, an area Cherpeski said could be reviewed on a regular basis.

Copies of the proposed budget are available online at and at City Hall, 500 Klamath Ave.


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