Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Tue, March 19 2013 at 4:05 PM, Updated: Tue, March 19 2013 at 4:18 PM
Klamath Falls could be facing a three-quarter of a million dollar deficit in the next ten years...and the city wants your opinion on where to cut expenses, and raise revenue.
Klamath Falls City Manager Nathan Cherpeski notes that it's a simple formula for deficits...
"Essentially, our expenses are growing faster than our revenues."
Cherpeski cautions that current spending and revenue levels could translate to a 760 thousand dollar shortfall in ten years. If nothing is done, in 2016 the budget could dip below city council's minimum for reserves - essentially, dipping into the city's savings account.
"And then in 2017, 2018, we're actually into negatives." Notes Cherpeski. And by 2023, it's a very significant number if nothing were to change."
Public Employee Retirement System, or 'PERS' obligations are a growing factor.
City Councilman Bill Adams suggests that the rising burden of PERS costs could be eased somewhat if current workers help to share the load...
"My take is that at some point in time, we're going to have to reinstate public employees paying their half of the PERS rate, instead of the employer paying 100 percent."
While budget sessions won't get underway until mid-May, the city is asking for public input now.
"There's a link on our website." Notes City Manager Cherpeski. "People can go online and fill that out, certainly feel free to call."
Councilman Adams agrees: "This is really one of the first times that we've gone out before budget and asked for information up front."
And your feedback could help the city to weather a budget storm.
Klamath Falls budget hearings are scheduled to get underway on May 15th.
Here's a link to where you can comment: www.ci.klamath-falls.or.us
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.