City rolls out budget topics, format

The City of Hood River rolled out a new budget procurement process for its vehicle fleet at the Aug. 13 city council meeting.

The end result was a mayor pleased with the direction the process was taking the city but left an occasionally confused council and a few befuddled moments for department heads.

Budget Director Lynn Rasmussen briefed the council on the changes to the process at the start of the meeting.

Hood River Fire Chief Devon Wells, Police Chief Neal Holste and Public Works Director Mark Lago then all made presentations to the council outlining their plans for vehicle replacements or purchases.

The new budget model outlines how much the department must put away each year until a vehicle’s scheduled replacement date in order to fully fund the replacement.

“One of the modifications to the policy established and prioritized the funding of reserves. Equipment replacement is one of those reserves,” read Finance Director Lynn Rasmussen’s explanation of the policy change. “This policy recognizes the prudence of financially planning for the future replacement of capital equipment used in ongoing operations.”

Holste made a pitch to purchase three replacement vehicles, a Ford Interceptor pursuit vehicle, a Chevy pickup and a Jeep Cherokee SUV.

The Interceptor would replace a seven-year old Crown Victoria in the police fleet; the new Cherokee would replace a Cherokee due for replacement eight years ago and the pickup would replace the department’s 1986 Chevy pickup and a Chevy Impala with 10 years of service.

“I looked at our replacement program and asked what can we get rid of and replace with something for multiple roles and not one use,” Holste said.

While the council liked the idea of a cost-savings model to reduce the size of the current police fleet by one vehicle, they did share several concerns with Holste, namely the cost of the Interceptor, and the lack of information on the budget sheet showing that vehicles would be phased out.

The Interceptor costs $48,000 while the 2012 Dodge Charger, which is currently the department’s most modern pursuit vehicle, cost $42,294.

“For this area it’s an incredible vehicle,” Holste said, citing the car’s all-weather capability.

Council member Kate McBride asked Holste if he had considered using green or hybrid vehicles as replacements in his fleet.

“That would be very impractical for us in emergency services,” Holste said. “Based on maintenance costs ... replacement batteries, pursuit, emergency issues on the highway, they are not pursuit-rated so we could have liability issues.”

While the council understood that hybrid or electric vehicle may not be practical for pursuit, they asked the chief to look into the possibility for non-emergency response vehicles, such as evidence collection and other non-pursuit uses.

Wells requested a replacement for Medic 3, an 11-year-old ambulance.

The council questioned Wells as to why the department’s 65-foot ladder truck, which is now used as a secondary ladder truck after the purchase of a 95-foot ladder truck in 2011, had not been sold.

“We couldn’t justify the sale of it,” Wells said of the decision to keep the engine.

That did not please Mayor Babitz.

“I don’t know if those decisions were justified before us ... it’s the equivalent of purchasing another truck,” Babitz said.

While the council asked police and fire to come back with modified requests at the next meeting, they did approve a pair of Chevy Silverado 3500 HD pickups, one diesel and one gas for public works.

In other Hood River government happenings:

n The city public works department announced that water restrictions for the installation of a new water line would not go into effect until Sept. 6.

n The Port of Hood River Commission will host the second of its two stakeholder roundtables to consider whether or not to offer a lease for a recreational cable park in the Nichols Boat Basin.

This roundtable will be for groups opposed to the project.

The public is welcome to attend but no additional public testimony will be taken on the cable park at the meeting. A chance to submit public testimony will be offered in a Sept. 12 meeting at the Port.

The meeting begins at 5 p.m. in the Port Commission boardroom.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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