City shouldn’t make sweetheart real estate deals

How dare the Baker City Council even think of offering reduced water and sewer charges in order to sell a property it owns.

The citizens of Baker City will soon be on the hook for the millions of dollars necessary to upgrade the sewage facility to new DEQ standards. Obviously we will all be paying more in the future for our water and sewer rates, and now we get to pay for someone else’s so the city can cut them a sweetheart deal in order to sell some real estate.

Enough is enough!

In case the members of the city council don’t remember, the citizens of Baker City are currently paying $3 a month to bail you out of your last real estate deal.

For anyone who still doesn’t know, the “Public Safety Fee” is nothing more than an unapproved tax to fund the salaries of public employees that the city didn’t have money in its budget to fund and should have never been hired in the first place.

They gambled on a real estate deal that fell through, and then when caught with their hands in the cookie jar and no cookies left, they suspended the sidewalk fee, raised the amount to $3 per household, and misled the public by calling it the “Public Safety Fee” in order to raise the money to pay for their mistake.

Not one cent is actually dedicated to any public safety program, the money is dumped right into the general fund, (yes they increased their own budget without voter approval), and the money is just as likely to be spent on toilet paper or a PERS payment as anything related to public safety.

Please join me on Oct. 9 at 7 p.m. at City Hall. Let us remind the City Council that the money they’re giving away doesn’t belong to them, because at the end of the day it will always be the citizens of Baker who end up footing the bill for their actions.

Kevin Luckini

Baker City

School bond measure would solve serious problems

I am writing to voice support for measure 1-88. Mark Witty, the school board, and a committee of Baker County residents have done a fantastic job creating a conservative plan for meeting Baker 5J educational and safety needs.

My husband, Carl, and I have lived here for 31 years. Carl was raised here in Baker County and went to these same schools that our children and now grandchildren attend. It has been 70 years since any real improvements have been made to our school buildings except in response to catastrophe. Carl was a teenager the last time a school bond measure passed in Baker County in 1948 and it’s time to make an investment back in our community.

Our elementary and middle schools are severely overcrowded. Currently, instructional rooms are being created from janitorial closets, auditorium stages and shower rooms. The proposal includes using existing facilities to reduce utilities costs by consolidating and moving middle school students to underutilized space at the high school. Current travel to BHS for coursework is costing students valuable instructional time. 1-88 seeks to increase access to vocational and advanced coursework for middle school students and provide adequate cafeteria facilities.

Brooklyn Primary and South Baker Intermediate schools are bursting at the seams. The current solution at Brooklyn is to bring in modular units filling the blacktop, while South Baker has no flexibility to add modular units. This measure would update Brooklyn for use as an early learning facility instead of having our youngest students outside in temporary units.

I encourage you to learn about our district’s needs and the proposed plans. Please watch the short video at www.bsdbond.org and tour the schools if you have any doubts about the conditions our teachers and students are coping with on a day-to-day basis.

I love our community and I want it to survive and thrive. Good schools attract industry and valuable workforce to small towns like Baker City. We want to support our students and help them become valuable, contributing adults in our community. Please vote Yes on Measure 1-88 this November.

Barbara Stiff

Baker City

I’m voting Yes on school bond to benefit community

Please vote Yes on Measure 1-88 — for kids and for our whole community.

I am retired, own several properties, am fiscally conservative, and have no children enrolled in school. I will vote Yes for the school bond because I want a healthy, vibrant future for Baker Valley.

Initially, I raised questions about alternatives, potential negative impacts, and solutions not requiring a bond passage. After considering comparative plan costs, necessary safety improvements, and long-term viability, it was clear to me that the proposed plan requiring bond passage was well-thought out and the best way forward.

If you remain undecided about supporting 1-88, I urge you to tour our schools, review the research on alternatives, and check out the facts about models that are working very well in surrounding communities. You may be surprised. For example, I did not realize that Baker 5J per student funding is near the bottom of all Eastern Oregon school districts, nor did I realize that we have not passed a school bond since 1948. It also surprised me that renovating existing buildings was a lot more expensive than using the existing high school more efficiently and building a new elementary school nearby.

A Yes vote on 1-88 is for all of us, now and in the future.

Liz Burton

Baker City

We can continue to use our existing school buildings

Give us a bond issue that addresses the maintenance and safety issues of our existing buildings, not one that gives us empty and underutilized buildings. Give us what is needed and is affordable! Brooklyn, South Baker and North Baker can house around 1,000 students (350 each). Central could house 350-400 students. These schools can all be remodeled and upgraded to be state-of-the-art buildings. This leaves no building empty and utilizes our existing structures. Our existing buildings CAN be upgraded and turned into state-of-the-art buildings giving good service to the community.

Jean Hulick

Baker City

Harvey has done good work, and he should be allowed to continue

I believe it is in the best interest of the citizens of Baker County to re-elect Bill Harvey to serve another term as chairman of the Baker County Commission. He is familiar with our legal rights provided by coordination. In my opinion Harvey has done well to represent the majority of our concerns and has spent much extra time promoting many projects in outlying districts such as the Panhandle, Huntingotn and Sumpter.

Harvey has grown familiar with ongoing local concerns and has developed name familiarity outside of the immediate area, which could greatly benefit us in the future. These gains should not be minimized. Considering the long, faithful hours that Harvey has worked for us, it would be very unjust to vote against him with his work half done. Please vote for Bill Harvey.

Carmelita Holland

New Bridge

Solution to school issue is to use the buildings we have

In the beginning there were four: Churchill, North Baker, South Baker and Brooklyn. Then there were three: North Baker, South Baker and Brooklyn. Now there are two: South Baker and Brooklyn. Surprise! Overcrowding!

Remedy: Move the high school programs now housed in North Baker to the half-empty high school and return North Baker to an elementary school. North Baker School can house approximately 350 students which would take care of the overcrowding now existing in the elementary schools and would also provide room for population growth.

As for the middle school, remodel Central. Central can house 350-400 students (present middle school enrollment is around 265) which easily takes care of overcrowding and would allow for growth also.

The remodeling and use of these already existing schools would not only cost less and address overcrowding, but it would also leave us with no empty buildings. And, there would be two beautiful state-of-the-art historic structures to show off!

Judith Head

Baker City

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