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Road budget would see $709,000 cut

By GERRY BAKSYS Herald and News 3/30/07

   Klamath Falls would lose $709,000 in road and street funding if federal timber payments to the state and county are not resumed.
   On Wednesday, Klamath County Treasurer Mike Long spoke to the Klamath Falls City Council about what effect the loss of timber payments would have.
   “One of the effects on the city road department is a loss of $709,000 in funding,” Long said. “The county is looking at going from a $10 million a year (road) budget to $300,000.”
   The trickle-down loss of funding was expected, said city manager Jeff Ball.
   “Klamath County’s getting hit by this, and by reading the newspaper it became obvious that cuts to the county would have an impact on the city,” Ball said. “It makes sense to ask questions and determine just what that impact will be.”
   The expected impact on the city could reach beyond road improvements, Long said.
   “The district attorney has already laid off two people, and the sheriff is proposing closing a pod in the jail and pulling off patrols,” Long said. “We are looking at more (of a) book-and-release system.”
   Sheriff Tim Evinger said these are only proposed scenarios and no plans have been finalized.
City Police Chief Jim Hunter said it’s up to the City Council to decide what the city would do if the Sheriff’s office cuts back.
“If the County Sheriff’s department cuts back on patrols, that will be a policy decision,” Hunter said. “The City Council will have to direct me to increase patrols in certain areas. I will defer to the Council decision.”
   Hunter said that if the county and city go to a bookand-release system, property crimes would increase. Ball said if that happens, the City Council needs to decide whether to solve the problem by funding the jail to keep the pod open, or funding the police department to add more patrols on the street.
   City councilwoman Trish Seiler indicated she would support funding the jail over more patrols.
   “Catch and release is a great dating policy,” she said, “but it scares the hell out of me when we are talking about criminals.”
   Long said both the county and the city should prepare for a worst-case scenario.
   “The Senate and Congress have passed a bill,” he said. “But it has strings attached to it that the president will veto.”

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