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Gold Hill council to hold special budget meeting

GOLD HILL - The City Council will hold a special meeting Monday night to consider a $2.5 million budget that still leaves the town's law enforcement in partial limbo.

Also at the meeting, Chief Norman Counts of the Siletz tribe of American Indians will discuss rebuilding the city's own police force. Counts is a former Gold Hill police officer. Mayor Scott Eilefson will also report on meetings he's had with Sheriff Bob Kennedy regarding a more affordable short-term law enforcement contract for the city.

"They just want to see what all the options are," said City Recorder Tony Paxton, explaining that "once the budget is adopted the council can move forward to make a decision about its law enforcement needs.

"The two sort of go hand in hand," said Paxton, adding that the budget committee had approved $75,000 from property taxes to use for "some type of law enforcement services."

"If no decision (regarding law enforcement) is made, we automatically default to the sheriff because we are county residents. We just won't be paying $61 dollars an hour for priority any more," said Paxton.

The new budget has to be adopted by July 1. In addition to property tax revenues, if council members decide to heed results of a recent survey, a bond levy will be placed on the November ballot for $50,000 to fund a police department sometime in the 2002-03 fiscal year.

Council member Christine Alford said the council seemed divided about moving forward with a new police department.

"They seem divided down the middle," she said. "Half of them want to go ahead and open a department even though we're about $15,000 short of indemnifying the city and the other half want to wait to see if the bond levy flies with the people."

Paxton said council members also would decide whether to use budgeted public safety funds to contract some code enforcement services out to Rogue Valley Security.

"We're still looking at private security for things like abandoned vehicles and code enforcement issues. We don't think we want to pay the sheriff $61 an hour to do that," said Paxton, who explained the city would "definitely need a levy if the council decided to rebuild a police department."

Monday's meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. in City Hall.

Buffy Pollock is a free-lance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at