Apparently, the Irrigon City Council isn't as enthusiastic about social gambling as some business owners in town would like. An ordinance that would allow gambling in city drinking establishments died this week at the council meeting for lack of a second, although councilors have been discussing the issue for three months.

Councilor David Burns introduced the idea after talking with local restaurant owners. The ordinance, patterned after Umatilla's gambling law, would allow gambling in city drinking establishments, with a maximum bet of $20. Another condition of the law is that business owners can't have any input into the gambling.

"The money would be totally between patrons," City Manager Jerry Breazeale said. "This just gives them a place to play cards and exchange money between themselves."

Jack and Beverly Baker, the owners of Bake's Restaurant, spoke in favor of the ordinance, as did Mayor James Ray. Councilor Eleanor Partridge, however, opined that gambling does not promote family-type activities.

Breazeale said the law also would apply to bingo at Stoke's Landing Senior Center. The council will take up the matter again at the next city council meeting.

The council went on to pass a budget for fiscal year 2009-2010 of $12 million. The budget reflects a 3.5 percent pay raise for all city workers and funding for another full-time utility worker. Breazeale said the new worker is needed to maintain and operate the city's water system.

"We've really stretched our public works department very thin - we knew we needed to give them some help," Breazeale said.

There will be eight full-time city employees after the new worker is hired. The pay raises bring the "personal services" budget from $705,241 to $733,121. Breazeale said the change reflects a higher cost of living.

The council called two executive sessions, one of which concerned the city's water system improvement project. After coming out of executive session, the council voted not to extend city contracts with the project's engineering firm, Anderson Perry, and its contractor, Swaggert Brothers.

Breazeale said that both companies concluded they needed more money - above their agreed-upon bid - to finish the water project, but the city did not agree.

The water project, which involves extending sewer lines and converting residential septic effluence systems to conventional gravity sewer systems, is complete except for a section of pipe along Main Street.

Breazeale said the city will contract with another company.

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