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Upcoming vacancies on Burns Council announced

Water and sewer rates set

Four positions on the Burns City Council will be on the ballot this November.

At the regularly scheduled meeting of the council on Wednesday, June 22, it was announced that the positions up for election this year are Position No. 1, currently held by Dan Hoke, Position No. 2, currently held by LouAnn  Deiter, Position No. 3, currently held by Terri Presley, and mayor, currently held by Craig LaFollette.

The deadline for filing is Aug. 30.


The council approved Resolution No. 16-626, a resolution adopting the budget for the fiscal year 2016-2017 in the amount of $6,572,191, making appropriations, and imposing and categorizing taxes.

The council also approved Resolution 16-627, setting rates for water and sewer services. Based on a study completed several years ago, the scheduled rate increases were created to keep the city’s water and sewer funds solvent. The resolution increases the water rates by 2 percent, and sewer rates will increase by 3 percent.

With the increases, the base rate for a water meter 5.8”X3/4” (inside the city limits) will increase from $38.80 to $39.55 (75 cents), and the sewer rate for single family  increases from $39.65 to $40.85 ($1.20). The water usage rate increases 1 cent, to 22 cents per 100 cubic foot. The rates are billed every two months.

A complete table of the increases is available at city hall.


The council discussed a proposal from Tony Urizar to buy back 9.45 acres of land his family sold to the city in 1952.

The land was used as the city dump at the time, but has sat idle for the past number of years.

In a letter to the council, Urizar explained that he has a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) permit that connects to the property, and a well on the other side of Radar Base Road. Urizar’s intention is to run a water line from the well to the city property to provide water to the cattle on the BLM allotment, as there is currently no water available on that side of the BLM permit.

Urizar offered $8,000 for the property, and the assumption of the liability that may go with the property as it was previously used as a dump.

City Manager (CM) Dauna Wensenk said the real market value of the property has been assessed at $22,250, but it may not be worth that amount because there may be oil, glass, and other materials buried there. She added that the land has just been sitting there unused for years, and by selling it, the land would be back on the county tax rolls.

Councilor Dan Hoke asked if the council could agree to just sell the property outright or did the property need to be advertised?

It was suggested the council check with legal counsel, and the discussion was tabled until the council’s next meeting.


Mayor LaFollette told the council that he and CM Wensenk had met with Roger Brown and his wife about a piece of property the Browns own on Crane Boulevard that they would like to donate to the city.

The property currently has a billboard on it, and there is a contract to keep the billboard there until 2024.

LaFollette said the land would make a nice park area, and several ideas were discussed, such as a two-sided kiosk to show county roads for visitors, new fencing, water lines, and other improvements.

LaFollette added that Brown would like to add the stipulation that the park be named after his grandfather.

No decision was made by the council, and they agreed to continue the discussion with the Browns.


In other business:

• CM Wensenk said she met with a representative from the BLM heliport at the airport about building a security fence and the possibility of increasing water pressure at the facility.

She also reported she had been contacted by the director of the movie Lean on Pete, which will be partially filmed in Eastern Oregon this summer, and she and the mayor will meet with him at a later date;

• Burns Fire Chief Scott Williamson said he met with Hines Fire Chief Bob Spence, and they agreed to put a ban on outdoor burning, effective July 1;

• Burns Police Chief Newt Skunkcap said his department is still working on getting some residents to clean up their properties, and there is some progress being made. He added that the Burns and Hines police departments are working well together to handle the number of calls;

• Public Works Director Pedro Zabala stated the water project on North Cedar is going well and should be completed in two to three weeks. He also told the council he had been contacted by Ron Williams of TopLoc about doing the striping in town again this year for $2,495, the same amount as last year. By consensus, the council agreed to have TopLoc proceed with the striping;

• the council approved a contract with Oster Professional Group to perform the audit for the 2015-2016 fiscal year.

The next council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 13, at city hall.

Randy Parks

Randy was born in Iowa, and spent most of his life growing up in the Hawkeye State. After a few years in college, he settled in Idaho for a decade, skiing, golfing, and working at Sun Valley Resort. He married in 1985, completed broadcast school, and moved to Harney County in 1989 to work for KZZR. After 16 years of on-air work, he left the radio station and went to work for the Burns Times-Herald.

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