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Oakridge City Council regular session 10/6: Police force grows and new software for the City

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New police force members: (L-R) Officer Mike Baeuerlen, Sgt. Shane Madsen, and Reserve Officer Kyle Lakey join the OPD. Herald photo

By GEORGE CUSTER/Editor  —  Councilor Bobbie Whitney appeared in person along with Councilor Dawn Kinyon. Kinyon was asked to run the meeting as Mayor Hollett was at home convalescing from a recent surgery. Hollett attended via Zoom as did the remainder of the council.

During public comment, Dan Barkley pointedly asked the governing body why the required annual audit for fiscal year 2020/2021 had not been submitted to the State? The finance director, Colleen Shirley, indicated that the city has to wait on the auditors, who are behind in the process. Also, the constant lagging by the current firm is one of the reasons that the city is looking for a new auditor. However, when asked by Mr. Barkley, it was acknowledged that the city has yet to publish a Request For Proposal (RFP) for a new auditor.

Chief Martin: “my job just got a lot easier”

Three new police joined the Oakridge Police Department. Officer Mike Baeuerlen, Sergeant Shane Madsen, and Reserve Officer Kyle Lakey were sworn in by Oakridge Police Chief Kevin Martin. After a lengthy affirmation was repeated by the three, there was a rounding applause and hand shakes all around. Reserve Officer Lakey had several friends and family members in attendance.

Revamp of city’s finance software

City Finance Director Colleen Shirley and City Administrator James Cleavenger Zoomed in from a distant location. They presented the council with two options for the purchase of an upgraded software system for the city. Council voted to purchase the package that will require the city to pay a much larger chunk of the overall price up front. Included in the overall plan for upgrades, a new server will be required to be purchased to handle the city’s data. A discussion centered around backup procedures should the system fail or if power failures would affect the system.

The new accounting software and its support will cost the city approximately $95,000. Three users will have admin access while a couple of other departments will have input access only.

Chief Martin spoke up in favor of the proposed system. He said that he will have access that he has previously had to go through the office staff to do. This will make his job much easier.

Rick Zylstra of Westoak GIS was present to update where his company is in his contract with the City. His work has proceeded on time. However, some work is expected to go beyond the contract’s time limit. Council was aware from the beginning of the contract of the expected time overrun. Mr. Zylstra is running for a seat on the council. Should he win in the election, there would be a conflict of the contract. Therefore, Westoak GIS will continue its work until the results of the election is posted.

An experienced City Planner is a necessity

The next order of business discussed the hiring a Community Services Director/City Planner. Councilor Whitney announced a potential conflict of interest. Mr. Zylstra, who has a master’s degree in planning, is her brother.

City Administrator Cleavenger spoke with the City’s attorney about whether the City could re-hire Zylstra to the position. Zylstra has been furloughed for over two years. It was determined that the best course of action would be to put out a recruitment notice for the position.  A vote carried to announce the position vacancy immediately. Starting salary is estimated to be about $65k. Prior to the vote, Councilor Whitney announced an actual conflict of interest. This was due to the possibility that her brother may apply for the position.

A new date was set for October 29th for a public safety fee community forum. Councilor Whitney was the only dissenting vote. She felt it is too soon to plan properly for the event.

City’s dispatch services by LCSO in question

In his remarks, Cleavenger briefed Council on the letter that was sent to Chief Martin from Lane County Sheriff Cliff Harrold. The letter announced that the Lane County Sheriff Office (LCSO) planned to cease the contract for dispatch services. The date for termination of services was to be September 30, 2022, about a week ago. Sheriff Harrold has since relented. Last Friday the termination was rescinded by the Sheriff under conditions yet to be disclosed. If complied with, services will continue through the end of the fiscal year.

The CA felt it was of no value to brief Council earlier. However, when the Highway 58 Herald broke the news of the pending event, Cleavenger decided to discuss the situation in public. He indicated that he had discussed the situation with “a couple of the councilors” outside of public meetings. Mayor Hollett said she was aware of this fact. However, he assured the Council that discussions with other dispatch providers was ongoing. He apologized for not briefing the council sooner.





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