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Mayor's plan trims spending, but adds police officers, library staff and water utility workers; tax rate projected to go up 11 cents.

Beaverton will add a few more positions — three police officers, five water utility workers and extra staffing for the library — and the tax rate will go up slightly in the next annual budget.

But the budget proposed by Mayor Denny Doyle for the year starting July 1 also will reflect a slight decrease in spending from current levels.

The budget is scheduled for adoption on Thursday, May 24, after a department-by-department review by the five elected city councilors and five appointed public members on the city Budget Committee. Budgets for the police and finance departments are scheduled for review on the final night.

Under Beaverton's mayor-council form of government, the mayor prepares the budget with the help of the finance director, and the budget committee and City Council review and approve it.

"I firmly believe that we can continue to meet the needs of our community while maintaining an efficient, cost-effective city government," Doyle said in his budget message.

Doyle's proposed budget is $278.4 million, excluding $9.5 million for the Beaverton Urban Renewal Agency. That's slightly down from a projected $279.9 million in spending for the year ending June 30.

The city workforce will grow by about 14 positions to a total of 581 full-time workers.

The budget proposes to add three police officers, a government affairs manager, a senior project development manager for affordable housing, a clerk for Beaverton Municipal Court, and an assistant finance director.

The library will get some added staffing, including two half-time security monitors, and $165,000 more for buying books and materials. The added five positions for the water utility will be paid by water customers.

Doyle, in his budget message, said he reduced or eliminated $1.6 million in spending requests from the city general fund.

"I am comfortable with what I proposed," Doyle said when the Budget Committee started its review on May 17. "We'll see what you think."

The combined tax rate for operations is proposed at $4.28 per $1,000 of taxable property value, plus 20 cents for debt service for library and public safety bonds, for a total of $4.48 per $1,000. That combined rate is 11 cents more than the current rate of $4.17, and would be the first increase since 2013.

The 11-cent increase breaks down to 5 cents for police, 3 cents for the library fund, and 3 cents for street lighting.

More for libraries

The library budget was presented by Abigail Elder, its director for the past five years, who began her new position as director of the mayor's office — deputy mayor in essence — on May 15.

The added $56,756 for part-timers, who typically work 20 to 24 hours per week, would enable the main library on Southwest 5th Street and the Murray Scholls branch to shift to new hours. The proposed schedule is 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. It would trim one hour Monday through Wednesday and three hours Thursday, but add one hour Friday and Saturday, and two hours on Sunday.

Elder said the proposed addition of two half-time safety monitors, at a total of $70,475 with prorated benefits, would enable the library staff to do its primary tasks without having to summon police when problems arise. The monitors, however, will not be akin to school resource officers, who are fully trained police.

Elder said other public libraries in Oregon have chosen to hire monitors to deal with people who are using libraries for other purposes.

"It took some cajoling of our librarian to do this," Doyle said. "But it is necessary."

The added $165,000 for book and material purchases would reverse a five-year decline since 2013, when Elder came to Beaverton from the Tualatin Public Library.

The library fund gets 60 percent of its money from a countywide local-option levy for library services — the levy is in effect through 2021 — and most of the rest comes from the city general fund, which relies mainly on property taxes.

The budget does set aside $1 million more for a reserve to cover future public-pension costs. The reserve will reach $4.2 million.

The Public Employees Retirement System board already projects higher pension contributions for member government agencies, including Beaverton, in the next two-year state budget cycle that starts July 1, 2019. The state board will adopt final rates for that cycle at its Oct. 5 meeting.

Doyle said Beaverton may consider setting up a "side account," an amount set aside to cover part of the city's future public-pension liabilities. Some government employers already have set up such accounts, and the 2018 Legislature set aside $25 million as an incentive for government employers to start new "side accounts." For every dollar contributed by the government employer to such an account, the state would give 25 cents.

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NOTE: This story is updated with detail from the Beaverton City Budget Committee meeting of Thursday, May 17, when the committee began its review of Mayor Denny Doyle's proposed 2018-19 budget. The committee continues its review on Monday, May 21, and Thursday, May 24.

Tax bills would go up

Beaverton homeowners will see a slight increase in their property tax bills under the city budget proposed for the year starting July 1.

The combined tax rate for operations is proposed at $4.28 per $1,000 of taxable property value, plus 20 cents for debt service for library and public safety bonds, for a total of $4.48 per $1,000.

That combined rate is 11 cents more than the current rate, so the owner of a home valued at the city average of $271,923 would see a tax increase of $30 over the current year's bill, according to Finance Director Patrick O'Claire.

Taxable property value, the basis for calculating tax bills, is about 64 percent of real market value.

The 11-cent increase breaks down to 5 cents for police, 3 cents for the library fund, and 3 cents for street lighting.

Until this budget, the combined rate had held steady at $4.15 to $4.17 for the past five years.

The proposed rate of $4.28 is less than the maximum of $4.62 that the city can levy under state property tax limits.

Amounts for bond issues are excluded from the limits. The library bond will be paid off by mid-2019. Voters approved a $35 million bond for a new public safety center in 2016, so the bond rate will remain constant. The center, which will house police and emergency management in an earthquake-resistant building, is scheduled for completion in 2020 at Southwest Allen and Hall boulevards.

— Peter Wong

Contract Publishing

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