Capital outlays increasing in proposed 2016-17 city budget

Sean C. Morgan

While the City of Sweet Home’s proposed budget will increase by about $562,000, it will decrease in most areas while increasing by $1.5 million in capital expenditures for 2016-17.

Outgoing City Manager Craig Martin provided an overview of the proposed budget during a budget meeting held on Thursday.

The total budget is proposed at $20.9 million, up from $20.3 million – a 3-percent increase.

The Budget Committee will meet at 7 p.m. on May 3, May 4 and May 11, with an additional meeting scheduled for May 12 if needed to consider the details of the budget, which upon approval will take effect on July 1, the beginning of the fiscal year.

After the Budget Committee reviews the budget proposed by staff, it will approve a budget, which then goes to the City Council, whose members also serve on the Budget Committee, for adoption prior to July 1.

“The increase is the result of additional expenditures totaling ($1.5 million) in capital outlay, while personal services, materials and services, debt service and ending fund balances are proposed to be ($1 million) less than the previous budget,” Martin explained.

Decreases in personnel and debt service are relatively small, about $21,000 in personnel and $82 in debt service, both changes that round to 0 percent.

Materials and services costs decrease about 2 percent, $92,500.

The proposed budget cuts ending fund balances by 20 percent, about $941,000. Ending fund balances are funds that are not appropriated or spent and serve as funding reserves in the budget. The money also is used to pay expenses from July to November, when property taxes are due.

The General Fund will decrease by about 20 percent, $764,000. Street funds also decrease by 13 percent, $338,000. The Water Operating Fund will increase by about $314,000, 15 percent; and the Wastewater Operating Fund will decrease about $50,000, 2 percent.

The police fund increases by $348,000, 11 percent; and the library fund will increase by 40 percent, about $148,000. The budget reflects an increase in tax rates approved by voters in November.

The budget assumes property values rise by 3 percent. It also assumes an increase of $38,000 from various state revenue sharing programs and fees.

The proposal anticipates a rate increase for water and sewer services, but the rate has not been set yet.

The budget includes no revenue from the sale of marijuana, which would depend on the outcome of an election in November.

The budget continues to fund half of the Police Department’s school resource officer, and it will increase library hours and programs.

For personnel, the budget includes just potential insurance benefit cost increases because police and general employees are bargaining a new contract this year and have yet to settle.

“The possibility of creating a new Municipal Court operation facility in conjunction with the Police Services Building is a strong possibility,” Martin said discussing possible capital outlays for 2016-17. “Final cost estimates for the proposal are still being developed for council consideration and may not be completed by the end of the 2015-16 budget year.

“The city will also be faced with the need for significant improvements of the Wastewater Treatment Plant for operations and permit requirements.”

Coming up this year, tentative council goals for 2016-17 include developing sustainable funding for expanded municipal services and programs, including a residential habitability code, expanded code enforcement efforts, dedicated economic development efforts and improved parks and open space facilities and programs, Martin said.

“The long-term financial outlook for the city is continually improving as a result of resurgence in development and overall economic improvement,” Martin said. “This growth, coupled with continued conservative budget management, will hopefully keep the city on a positive fiscal trajectory and provide the ability to continue to provide efficient and effective municipal service to the citizens of the community.”

The Budget Committee appointed Diane Gerson chairwoman and Andrew Allen vice chairman. Present at the meeting were Allen, Gerson and Brent Gaskey; Mayor Jim Gourley; and councilors Greg Mahler and Ryan Underwood. Councilor Jeff Goodwin was present but had to leave early, while councilors James Goble, Bruce Hobbs and Dave Trask were absent.

The committee has three vacancies. For information or to apply, contact the city manager’s office at (541) 367-8969 or stop by City Hall, 1140 12th Ave. Budget Committee meetings are held in the City Council Chamber, located in the City Hall Annex behind City Hall.