Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Thu, May 10 2012 at 5:10 PM, Updated: Thu, May 10 2012 at 5:22 PM
Some elected officials in Tulelake are taking salary cuts to help put their town back in the black. It's just one of the ways that Tulelake has cut a quarter-million dollar defict nearly in half...
Tulelake Mayor Randy Darrow and 3 city council members voted Monday to cut their $250 monthly salaries by $100. Mayor Darrow notes that the small town is chipping away at a big deficit...
"18 months ago, we were about 230 thousand dollars in arrears - and today, I can probably say we're 130 thousand."
Tulelake has also managed to whittle back its deficit through voluntary furlough days for city employees, and a strict no overtime policy. Council member Dar Carroll says Tulelake is also making efforts to collect on overdue utility bills...
"It's very hard, because most of the people, we grew up with. We are trying to get them to pay their bill - and we understand that they're having a hard time like everybody else."
While the mayor and council's salary cuts work out to less than $5000 a year, supermarket owner Tony Giacomelli says those cuts reflect leadership...
"I think it's a good idea, and I think it's a positive step that they're taking to show that they're taking seriously our budget crisis here."
"It's $5000 to the electric company, that keeps the water pumping - and that's a big, huge deal." Adds Mayor Darrow.
The city hopes to be out of the red by the end of next year.
A financial audit that was completed a year and a half ago helped bring Tulelake's financial picture into sharper focus. It was the first audit that the town had undergone in about 12 years.
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.