Earlier this summer, news broke that the city of Oakridge had a $420,000 hole in its budget. It wasn’t just that the city had less money because of the recession. It appears that bookkeeping errors may have caused the small town to spend more money than it had. It’s not totally clear how the money was spent, but some crucial data may have been lost in a recent software change at City Hall.
Many questions remain about what went wrong and who is to blame. Oakridge’s mayor and council are facing a recall campaign which began even before the public knew about the budget gap. City administrator Gordon Zimmerman is at the center of the financial mess in Oakridge. The fact that city officials voted against firing Zimmerman has added significant fuel to the recall effort. Zimmerman has served as a city manager in three other Oregon cities. He faced a similar financial crisis in 2003, when he was asked to resign his post as city manager in Baker City. The benefits and pitfalls of changing city leadership is certainly a hot topic in Oakridge at the moment. Ballots are due September 20.
Do you live in Oakridge? How would you like to see this situation resolved? What are you weighing as you decide how to vote in the recall election? If you’re not an Oakridge resident, have you ever faced a similar situation in the place where you live?
- Winston Ross: Reporter for The Register-Guard
- Don Hampton: Mayor of Oakridge
- James Affa: Chairman of the 2011 budget committee in Oakridge