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Cascade Locks appoints public safety task force

January 14, 2012

Three public processes are under way in Cascade Locks: one annual, one new and one unusual, yet familiar.

The annual one is the budget process, for which two public meetings were set Monday by City Council, including one on Jan. 19.

The unusual, yet familiar, process is the forthcoming search for and hiring of a city administrator. It's something the city went through three times in 2011. (Details on the budget and administrator search processes, below.)

The new process is the Public Safety Task Force, established by the council in December. The 15 task force members were interviewed and appointed Monday. They are:

Rob Brostoff, Larry Cramblett, Sharon Dean, James Dean, Ralph Hesgard, Arni Kononen, Barry LaMont, Martha LaMont, Debora Lorang, Gary Munkhoff, Jeff Pricher, Richard Randall, Debra Reed-Sharp, Nancy Renault, Shelly Storm and Patrick Stuart.

No schedule for task force meetings has been established.

In August 2011 Paul Koch was appointed interim administrator, following the selection of Eric Strahl of Michigan, who chose not to accept the job. The vacancy arose with the departure of the previous interim administrator, Rich Carson, in April on the final day of his contract. Carson was filling in after the departure of Bernard Seeger, who held the post for five years.

No specifics have been set on a timeline for a city administrator search.

"There are some details to be worked out," City Recorder Kathy Woosley said. Koch's contract expires Aug. 30. (Council has already extended Koch's contract, originally scheduled to expire July 1.)

The council discussed hiring Oregon League of Cities to conduct the search for a permanent administrator, but they were reminded that it is stated in Koch's contract that he will coordinate the search for his replacement. Koch, who has worked for a number of Oregon cities, noted that he has overseen municipal hiring processes in several of his previous positions.

In two community meetings the Council will hear ideas and suggestions for the 2012-13 budget. The dates are Jan.19 and Jan. 24 at 7 p.m. at a location to be announced.

Council also set Feb. 11 as the date for the budget discussion meeting with city staff and all city boards and committees to review the comments and suggestions of the community and begin setting-budget priorities.

The task force process is expected to last through March. The panel will be instructed to develop a plan for long-term implementation to recommend to city council during the 2012-13 budget process, in April and May.

The task force will hold community meetings to get citizen and community suggestions and ideas about desired service level, method of payment and organizational method to deliver the service. Council has asked the task force to research the potential savings, approaches and benefits to the community of a regional approach to the delivery of fire and life safety services.

The task force will consider options including:

The cost of a volunteer fire service only;

The costs for both fire and ambulance (basic life support) as volunteer-only;

The costs for fire and advanced life support services on a volunteer-only basis; and

The costs for a paid staff fire and ambulance service.

The task force will a look into the possibility of creating a new fire district for the community or contracting out for the service, and research the potential for a two-state approach that would link Cascade Locks with its Washington neighbors in a new sub-regional fire and life safety funding approach and operation.

(In Monday's meeting, the council discussed setting a date for a joint meeting with the Stevenson, Wash., city council.)

The Task Force must identify where state law and or policy changes would facilitate the provision of this service in a more cost-effective manner.

The panel will also look at "all other ideas and options to enhance the delivery of emergency services in the community," according to the council resolution.

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