City budget gets OK

Sean C. Morgan

Of The New Era

The city of Sweet Home Budget Committee approved the 2008-09 budget on May 1.

The budget next moves to the City Council for a public hearing and adoption on June 24.

The $26,595,000 budget is $351,000 lower than the 2007-08 budget. Approximately 17 percent, $4.4 million, of the budget pays for personnel, 62.8 positions, and personal services. Materials and services represent 14 percent of the budget at $3.8 million. Capital outlays, including $8.9 million for a new water treatment plant, are 43 percent, $11.4 million, of the budget. Debt service, transfers, contingency funds, reserves and ending fund balances are about 26 percent of the budget.

General Fund

The general fund will expend approximately $2.4 million with a carryover of approximately $900,000, roughly $50,000 more in expenditures than 2007-08 and reflecting increases in personnel costs, salaries and insurance and approximately $115,000 more in capital outlays for a total of $190,000.

The capital outlays include $125,000 to upgrade the exterior of the City Hall Annex, the modular building located behind City Hall. It houses the Municipal Court and City Council chamber. The upgrade will include new siding and a breezeway connecting City Hall to the annex.

It also earmarks $25,000 for upgrades to the exterior of City Hall and $25,000 for completion of the parking lot behind City Hall.

Within the fund, approximately $33,000 has been set aside to repair the bandstand and hut at Sankey Park and the racquetball court at Northside Park; resurface the tennis courts and basketball court at Northside Park; and install security cameras, tables and chairs for meetings and events at Sankey Park.

Police Levy

The police levy fund is budgeted at $2.9 million for 2008-09, with $571,000 of that total rolling over to the following year.

It continues the school resource officer position at a cost of $42,000 to the city. School District 55 pays for the other half of the position.

Personnel costs increase by $55,000 to $1.55 million. Materials and services will increase by $35,000 to $222,000. Most of that increase is in operating supplies, with the cost of gasoline increasing.

The Police Department also is adding $22,000 in a computer services and mobile data terminal contract.

“Positive changes in the revenue picture have allowed us to come out from a bleak financial situation intact,” Police Chief Bob Burford said. “However, the Sweet Home Police Department will continue to operate in a fiscally conservative manner while at the same time maintaining our infrastructure to avoid the ‘save-money-now-but-pay-bit-time-later’ scenario.”

It includes money to finish upgrading its video surveillance and video interview systems, and the department will link up to the Oregon State Police Identification Bureau and the FBI for live scanning of suspect fingerprints, which will provide immediate feedback to booking officers to let them know if fingerprints are of acceptable quality for other agencies to use in solving crimes.

The dispatch budget increases by approximately $17,000 to $419,000, primarily reflecting increases in personnel and materials and services costs and including the addition of $16,000 for computer services.

Library Levy

The library levy is budgeted at approximately $290,000, up from $259,000. About $62,000 will roll over to next year’s budget.

Personnel costs will increase by approximately $13,000, and the library’s operating supplies budget, used to purchase books and other materials, will increase by $5,000 to $35,000.

Street Maintenance Fund

The city’s street maintenance fund is budgeted at $1.9 million. Approximately $1.5 million will continue to be held in reserve. When feasible, the city’s goal is to maintain a fund balance of $1.5 million and use interest to pay for projects.

Among projects this year are the Second Avenue rebuild project at $178,000; $50,000 in street projects and striping; $20,000 in crack sealing; and $145,000 in Oregon Department of Transportation funds for replacing the Ames Creek culvert on 12th Avenue.

Path Program

The city is budgeting $248,000, up from $159,000 in the path program, rolling $78,000 forward to the following year. The fund includes $100,000 to repair, replace and install various sidewalks, curb cuts and more throughout the city. It also includes $60,000 as part of an annual effort to construct wheelchair accessible ramps as part of federal requirements for Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

Building Reserve Fund

The city is budgeting $10,000 for repairs to Weddle Bridge and $100,000 to prepare the city’s new Public Works maintenance yard off 24th Avenue for use. The fund is primarily used to set aside money for a new City Hall, reducing the amount the city may eventually seek in bonds to build a new City Hall.

The fund reserves $346,000 for future expenditures, down from $523,000.

Water Fund

The city is budgeting $1.95 million, up from $1.77 million for its water services.

The majority of the increase is $100,000 in debt payments, $20,000 in personal services, and $38,000 in materials and services costs.

Wastewater Fund

The city is budgeting $1.98 million in its wastewater fund, up from $1.9 million. The changes reflect a $9,000 increase in personal services and $31,000 in materials and services. Debt costs increase by $273,000 to $792,000.

Storm Water Fund

The new storm water utility will start when the City Council approves a recommended rate of $1 per equivalent dwelling unit, most residential properties. While the fund has had activity over the past three years, the city is budgeting the first year of the new utility at $116,000, with $60,000 transferred to various reserve and project funds.

The fund has a contingency of $20,000 with $11,600 carrying over to the following budget.

The budget will be used for potential projects in the drainage system over the next year, Public Works Director Mike Adams said. At this point, the fund has no dedicated personnel. The city will use either its own personnel or contractors to complete projects that it may do.