Thursday, September 1, 2011/lk
Petitions for recall on Tiffany Pruit, George Fischer, Don Haight and Kevin Benson were filed by Arni Konenen, Shawna Hasel and Ralph Hesgard, part of the organization "Five Alarm Recall."
A fifth petition, filed against Lance Masters, is separate from the "Five Alarm Recall" group's. It was filed by Michael Blakley.
Mr. Kononen's statement is compromised of inaccuracies, irrelevancy and falsehoods, the purpose of which are to deny the citizens of Cascade Locks their right to be represented by people they have chosen. A few examples from just the first sentence of Mr. Kononen's statement:
Funding for EMS was not cut. The city provided the same funding as in 2010-2011, and in fact the council increased funding for EMS by about $40,000 annually by finally beginning to make payments on the $450,000 borrowed from the electrical department in 2008. These facts are available in the 2011-2012 budget.
The statement says residential, commercial and business insurance rates have increased. I personally have all three of these coverage's and there have been no increases in my policies, nor have I heard of increased rates for others in Cascade Locks.
Regardless of the outcome of this petition, it has been my honor to have been elected to represent the City of Cascade Locks as a city council member. I will gladly accept the majorities' decision either way.
It seems the sole purpose of this recall is to put the same people back into City Hall who lost the previous election. To what end? This council chose to rectify the unacceptable financial shape that previous managements had left unresolved.
Fire and EMS funds were NOT drastically reduced; they still receive their allotted taxes (42 percent of property taxes paid). Reductions came from the continued over-projection of prospective revenue. This over-projection is partially what has put this department over budget, by spending what was projected rather than what was actually received. A repayment plan has been implemented for the nearly $500,000 in loans taken from the electrical and water departments, without requesting a vote from citizens for a fee or rate increase. Our current planning consultant was hired on an as-needed basis instead of a set amount contract. The Public Works Department has been reorganized for better use of funds. A local attorney was also hired which saves the city money, particularly in travel costs.
Government should live within its means and this council has taken many needed steps in that direction. I hope that you will allow me to continue working hard for our city's future. Thank you.
Don R. Haight
We, as new council members, were forced to focus on an enormous deficit: Fire $749,280; sewer $923,642; fire department operating in the red; fund balances on the decline; and the FEMA 911 grant costs to the city still not determined since the required reports have not been provided by former Chief Pricher.
This year's budget process revealed uncontrolled and often illegal spending (auditors 2010-2011 report), oversight and accountability were lost in the process of juggling funds, and the late submission of ambulance bills (up to seven months late).
Why did the last council agree to Seeger's request for a clause in his resignation which exempted him from any wrong doings? He quit, rather than face budget committee and council questions. A character flaw? (John) Morgan, city planner, and Jeff Pricher also quit rather than to answer questions.
The problems facing our town are too serious for political games. We need problem solving, working together and living within our means.
I ran for city council to help resolve our fiscal deficit and that is still my goal.
As Mayor, I have one vote for decisions made by the City Council / Budget Committee. It is my responsibility to oversee and maintain order by following the Oregon Public Meeting Laws. The economic climate and balanced budget requirements of the Oregon Budget Laws have necessitated current decisions.
The former city administrator resigned before I entered into office. The city planner resigned without a conversation with me.
The monies for landscaping are a designated line item.
Interim city administrator issued a building permit to Mr. Benson. I did not have any input into this transaction.
A balanced budget is required of each city department. The new council and budget committee discovered several issues, one of which is the non-compliance of the fire chief / department head not having a balanced budget for several years.
Open communication concerning matters of city business is of vital importance to me. I take my responsibility to make decisions seriously and consistently strive to be a strong leader with integrity, working towards a better future for the citizens and City of Cascade Locks. We choose to be responsible for all city debt.
The council and myself are constantly working to improve the services to our city.
I stand in support of our volunteer fire department. I fought against the recent attacks on our volunteers. The attempt to remove me is in response to the recall of four other councilors and my defense of your fire department. Voting to recall me is voting against our fire department and its volunteers.
Since joining your city council, I've promoted the principles of a safe, clean, family friendly city for you and businesses that you can be proud of. I shall continue to pursue those goals as your councilman. I have always voted for balanced budgets and will never support illegal or uncontrolled spending. The budgets I've supported always took into consideration improvements of streets, water, and city light.
I vote with the majority when it promotes our goals. Recently I voted against the majority to ensure basic emergency protection for our city. I've tried to stop our current council from reducing your public safety, and I'm proud of that.
Above all else, when making decisions as part of your city council, I balance our community needs with the capacity of our city to provide those needed services.