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Klamath Falls Chief of Police Dave Henslee presents to the Klamath Falls City Council at a regularly-scheduled meeting Monday.

A request from Klamath Falls Police Chief Dave Henslee that $90,000 budgeted for operating costs of a planned sobering center be instead reallocated toward construction of the facility was approved by the Klamath Falls City Council at its Monday night meeting.

The facility is a long-discussed resource where intoxicated people will be taken to sober up, rather than the hospital or jail.

Henslee expressed his support for the center.

“This is going to be an amazing asset for our community,” he said.

“The police department, since the beginning of 2016, responded to over 1,000 calls in less than three years, a thousand calls of people too intoxicated to care for themselves. Of that, 151 people were taken into custody — for no crimes — just because they couldn’t walk, and these people are taken to the emergency department or to jail. That is a horrible use of our resources,” he explained.

According to the council agenda, the project is at a $176,000 deficit, but if the funds from the police department are reallocated to construction, Klamath Basin Behavioral Health and Sky Lakes Medical Center have agreed to cover the rest of the deficit.

The council voted unanimously to reallocate the funds, meaning that construction on the center should be able to begin soon.

Economic Improvement District

Council unanimously voted Monday to move to the next stage of approval of a downtown Economic Improvement District, with the matter appearing before the council again Jan. 21 for a second and final reading.

The EID pays for downtown maintenance and decorative items such as garbage removal, flower pots, banners, benches and trash cans. The EID is on a five-year renewal cycle and is due to expire and be renewed in the coming year.

“This is something that makes those downtown amenities possible. Something that really makes our downtown pop,” said City Management Analyst Aaron Snow, who presented the matter to the council.

The proposal for the renewal is for a three-year term. Officials have said the shorter term is due to the many changes the downtown will undergo in the coming years.

The proposed fee for the first year would be $2.42 per linear foot of Main Street frontage and $1.21 for side street linear foot frontage, but not to exceed $303.62 per property, per year. The fee will rise 10% per year over the three-year term. By the third year, the fee will be $2.93 per linear foot of Main Street frontage and $1.46 for side street linear foot frontage, but not to exceed $367.38 per property, per year.

“After today’s reading ... it goes to a second reading on the 21st. The day after that it’s the city’s job, staffs job, to send out an individual letter to each property owner,” Snow explained.

The letters will have information including how much each property owner will be expected to pay each year for the EID based on their property, as well as how to participate in a public hearing on the matter which will be held on March 2.

According to the agenda, state law requires that if the Council receives written objections to the proposed assessments from property owners representing more than 33% of the total fees proposed to be collected, the Council must terminate the EID.

Other Matters

The council elected Todd Andres as the city council president for 2020.

The council voted to pay the bill for the Christmas tree which was located in Klamath Commons Park. The final bill was $26,956 and the remaining funds from the originally budgeted $35,000 will be used to store city-owned Christmas decorations that have recently been purchased.

The council voted to essentially eliminate an alley right of way that runs in the center of a property located at the intersection of Main and Esplanade, the former location of the Balsiger Ford building. The block consists of 26 separate legal lots divided by an alley right of way.

As Confluence Klamath Falls, LLC has plans to develop the property there, the city decided to turn the lots into one cohesive lot that will be easier for the developer to work with.

Confluence Klamath Falls plans to turn the lot into a multi-floor building with residential space as well as commercial space.