Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Wed, March 6 2013 at 4:35 PM, Updated: Wed, March 6 2013 at 4:46 PM
Budgets could soon be slashed by a fifth, if proposed cuts take effect in Klamath County - and those cuts could have a dramatic impact on public safety and prosecution.
Dire possibilities as the budget axe falls in Klamath County...
Klamath County Chief Financial Officer Jason Link explains: "Within that proposal is a 20% cut to district attorney, juvenile, O.S.U. extension and experiment station."
Klamath County Juvenile Department Director Dan Golden says those cuts could result in the closure of juvenile detention...
"It's a possibility that we'll be forced into the position of having to rent a few beds in some other county, that would be far costlier than operating our own facility."
The D.A.'s office is also bracing for cuts. Speaking by phone, Stephanie Tuttle of the Oregon Attorney General's Office noted that the proposed 235 thousand dollars in cuts for the District Attorney's office could result in the layoff of 2 of 6 deputy district attorneys. If that were to happen, Klamath County would have fewer prosecutors than courtrooms.
Sheriff Frank Skrah would not talk with us about how the cuts could impact patrols and jail beds.
"And the Sheriff is getting cut about 1.4 million dollars." Noted Jason Link. "But it's on a different formula method of calculations."
Klamath County Commissioner Tom Mallams notes the budget reflects a loss of federal timber dollars...
"We've only got a set number of dollars to work with. So if we re-allocate something from one department, to go to one department, it's going to come off of somebody else's department."
Public safety accounts for about 71% of Klamath County's general fund.
Klamath County's public safety council voted unanimously at noon today to 'encourage the commissioners to reconsider the tentative levels of cuts', and to provide the commissioners with an outline of potential impacts.
KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970's. He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.
Lyle's job history is quite colorful. He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand. A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90's as a news writer and commercial producer. In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.
Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience. "The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain. Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story".
When he's not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.