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'Status quo' presented to Wilsonville Budget Committee

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - The Renaissance Boat Club development along the Willamette River is just one example of the boom in homebuilding in Wilsonville that is contributing to a projected increase in tax revenues. This project will feature boat slips for property owners in this artificial lagoon. Wilsonville City Manager Bryan Cosgrove has unveiled a “status quo” budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year, saying the city is poised to benefit from surging development and prudent long-range planning.

The city’s budget committee received a $122.49 million all-funds budget proposal May 1 that would include a $42 million operating budget for fiscal year 2014-15 and roughly $10 million in capital construction projects. Just as important, the city is also on the verge of completing a host of long-range planning projects aimed at implementing city council goals, primarily those related to economic development.

“I would say it’s a status quo with an emphasis on fiscal responsibility and smart investment in infrastructure,” said Cosgrove.

The all-funds budget is less than the $129 million approved by the budget committee for the current year. The reduction primarily comes as a result of the completion of the city’s new wastewater treatment plant, a $44 million project that was dedicated last month.

Other highlights of the proposed budget include a projected four percent increase in property tax revenue, largely as a result of surging homebuilding in Wilsonville. The past year saw a dramatic rise in building permits to nearly pre-recession levels. Community Development Director Nancy Kraushaar said the city has issued 165 permits for single-family homes so far in 2013-14, with additional permits for 125 multi-family units. There were also 162 permits issued for commercial or industrial projects in 2013-14, and in the coming year Kraushaar expects this trend to continue.

For 2014-15, she said, the city is projecting up to 225 single family home permits in Villebois and other areas and 147 permits for units in multi-family housing, primarily the Active Adults at the Grove senior apartments in the Brenchley Estates complex. Permit valuation, she added, is expected to exceed the current year.

“We’re projecting continued development trends like the last year or two,” she said, “which would be great for the city.”

In public works, Director Delora Kerber said her department will be taking on the added responsibility of maintenance at the former visitor center at Town Center Park slated for overhaul and transition to a new parks and recreation building. In addition, public works will be tasked with maintenance of I-5 interchange amenities, which consists largely of cleaning the Beauty and the Bridge public art display.

The parks and recreation department itself will not be adding any employees, nor will the Wilsonville Public Library, which will receive a small hike in funds to pay for additional books, both printed and electronic.

The city’s South Metro Area Regional Transit agency, or SMART, will receive four new buses in the coming year, two full-sized conventional diesel vehicles and two smaller buses powered by compressed natural gas, a fuel that remains about a third of the price of diesel.

The Wilsonville Police Department, meanwhile is slated for approximately a two percent budget hike, from $3.7 million to $3.9 million for 2014-15. This figure, which is not yet finalized, is set by the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, which has operated the department under contract with the city for decades. It is intended to exactly cover the department’s costs for providing 18 officers and their equipment, Wilsonville Police Chief Jeff Smith said.

Other notable numbers include a 2.25 percent increase in city water rates Cosgrove said is intended to maintain pace with inflation. In addition, city employees will pay 10 percent of their health insurance premium costs for the first time during the coming year. At the same time, what was projected as an eight percent rate hike in that area now looks to be only five percent, a $32,000 savings for the city.

The budget committee will meet again at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 8, in council chambers at Wilsonville City Hall, 29799 SW Town Center Loop East.

Web: ci.wilsonville.or.us.