The Cities of Creswell and Veneta have police services with the Lane County Sheriff’s Department, and by all accounts are happy with the services. Each small outreach serves the communities with a Sergeant and three or four deputies, providing 24 hour coverage.
This coverage is more than Oakridge has according to some of the residents who when they call in the wee hours of the morning are informed on occasion there is not an officer on duty and when one comes on he will get with them. But there are times when you go to the Oakridge Police Department during the day and there are two officers on duty at one time. Is it scheduling or is it a lack of budgeting for officers? Well according to the police department budget of $1,156,729 they are are slotted for three police officers, a communications supervisor, a Chief of police and a part time officer worker.
The City of Creswell pays the Lane County Sheriff’s Department $787,160 for three full time deputies and a Sergeant. This gives Creswell full time patrol 24/7. With this is a contract that includes all police services and with Deputies still citing traffic violations and city ordinance violations into Creswell’s Municipal Court. With this cost being $369,569 less than what Oakridge pays for the same services the city council is now fiscally negligent to not immediately consider this programs implementation.
With recent financial settlements in 2018 and 2019, poor financial management of the previous administration, a failing water system, an outdated sewage treatment plant the city continues to raise water rates to cover expenses. A yearly savings of more than 300k would allow the city to explore a surface water system, a replacement system for the current treatment plant, and would not have to raise water rates.
According to many of the citizens of Oakridge the water tastes bad, leaves their tubs and dishes discolored, and has had a history of having Tetrachloroethylene in small amounts and a well field with limited space left to drill in the field. With no real room to expand the field and the existing wells, the city will soon be left with little choice but to explore surface water treatment solutions.
Councilor Paul Forcum was responsive to the idea and as the Chairman of the public safety committee has an interest in seeing the city be fiscally responsible, and also have 24/7 competent police coverage.
When Councilors Hollett, Whitney and Mayor Holston for the City of Oakridge were running for their positions they took strong positions against replacing the police department, they all have voted to increase the water each time it has come before the council. Perhaps when faced with the actual numbers they will reconsider raising the rates of citizen’s water rates, but instead find other fiscally responsible ways to spend the citizen’s money.
For those who are interested in seeing what they get for their money I have included a inter-agency agreement between Lane County and Cresswell.
Written by Stephan Ball