Oroville looking at budget over $8 million

OROVILLE – The Oroville City Council discussed a proposed 2010 city budget of $8,024,325 at their Tuesday, Nov. 17 meeting.

Under current expense, by far the highest expense is for law enforcement at $528,000, followed by airport, $167,600; financial/administration, $147,000 and community development, $134,000.

“There are no proposed wage increases for 2010… the health insurance amount has changed to save some costs per employee,” said Kathy Jones, Oroville Clerk/Treasurer. “It is a lower budget because the fence project at the airport is finished.”

Jones also discussed the county’s current demands for increased criminal justice fees for prosecuting, booking and jailing suspects arrested for misdemeanors by the city. She said the cities in Okanogan County are still trying to negotiate a better deal with the county.

“If we can’t it will break us,” said Jones.

“The scary part of this situation is the Criminal Justice costs,” agreed Mayor Chuck Spieth.

According to Jones there is no money earmarked in the 2010 budget for operation of the state park. The fate of state park, which had been slated to be transferred to Oroville by the state Parks and Recreation Commission, is still unknown. The city, as well as the Colville Confederated Tribes, is expected to resubmit requests to take over ownership and operation of the park when the issue comes up again next year.

However, the decision on the park may not be made until June, and the state does not plan to take reservations for campsites next year, which has caused concern that people who camp at the park year-after-year may look elsewhere.

The council is considering possible increases in utility rates. There was a print out comparing current utility rates for single-family residences for Oroville and five other cities. Oroville has one of the lowest base rates for water within the city limits at $19.00 per month for 5000 gallons. Oroville was also much lower than all the cities compared – Tonasket, Omak, Okanogan, Brewster and Coulee Dam – for water delivered to their customers living outside the city limits. Oroville’s sewer charges for those living within the city limits were lowest at $22.00 per month and $33.00 per month outside the city limits. The highest was Okanogan at $41.57 per month inside and $75.28 outside.

“As you see our rates are extremely low compared to others… we should at least be looking at the sewer rates as we need to cover our costs for the Bio-Solids Project,” said Jones.

“And the costs of maintenance on the project is not yet known,” added Rod Noel, superintendent of public works.

He said the contract for construction of the Bio-Solids Project was awarded on Nov. 9 and that excavation has already begun at the site. He also said the cultural resources monitor was also at the site.

Noel gave an update on the Pedestrian Project linking the north and south ends of town along Main Street/Highway 97. He said that paving is scheduled to take place as soon as possible.

“They understand they are responsible for winter maintenance. If they can get the paving done they can continue to work until the ground is frozen,” Noel said. “The streetlights may be finished prior to the sidewalks being done.”

Councilman Ed Naillon said the project will “make the entrances to Oroville look a lot better, especially entering from the south.”

“We will also get more lighting at that end of town,” added Noel.

The council adopted a change in SOPs for the ambulance crew and also approved contributing to the purchase of a new gurney that has the ability to be wheeled over rougher terrain. The gurney the EMS District plans to purchase is a demo model at a much-reduced price over new