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City is shifting to annual budget sessions

The city of Lake Oswego plans a shift to annual budgets, scrapping its formerly biennial budgets in favor of tighter reins on finance.

City Manager Alex McIntyre said the change will make financial forcasting easier in the tough economy and increase citizen involvement in finances.

He said the change is not a response to a recent citizen push for more restraint in city spending. Instead, McIntyre said annual budgets are part of a series of new directives intended to focus city hall on his management goals.

McIntyre has been city manger in Lake Oswego since March 3, 2008.

In moving to annual budgets, he is asking managers of the city's departments to take greater responsibility for how they prioritize spending and adhere to financial goals.

'Department directors need to be more actively involved in their budgets, and in turn, more accountable for what projects and programs receive funds and how those funds are spent throughout the year,' said McIntyre.

'I really want them to take greater ownership of their budget,' instead of relying on the Lake Oswego Finance Department to develop budgets and oversee expenditures, he said.

To guide spending, McIntyre wants long-range master plans to direct priorities in each city department.

'Having reliable capital plans for the city's major infrastructure areas such as transportation, sewer and water systems, city buildings and facilities and parks, is essential to properly and efficiently managing our public assets,' he said.

McIntyre hopes to have some of those plans in place for the 2010 budget process.

The 2009 budget process is currently under way. A proposed budget - set to take hold July 1, 2009 - is currently being developed and will get its first review from the Lake Oswego Budget Committee in April.

McIntyre said volunteers who serve on that committee have requested more involvement in the budget process.

They will get their wish in tackling the city's problem areas, he said, such as declining revenue at the municipal golf course.

McIntyre's ideas have support from Mayor-elect Jack Hoffman.

'Over the past couple of years, we have heard loud and clear from a number of citizens that the city council and city administration needs to be more transparent and accountable. This is one significant step in that direction. These changes are also timely given our current economic uncertainties,' said Hoffman.

'Even though the city expects to continue to be financially stable this next year (the city relies primarily on property taxes as its primary source of revenue), we know that times are difficult and that we may need to adjust based on changing financial conditions. These measures that Alex is putting in place will help us make those adjustments as needed over the coming year.'