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Sandy unveils 'modest' budget

City considers 2007-09 funding

Water fountains at Jonsrud Viewpoint and the Sandy Skatepark. A full-time receptionist/records clerk for the Sandy Police Department. Many utility wires in the downtown corridor placed underground. A new public works/transit facility.

These are just a few of the projects that would be funded with city tax dollars and grants between 2007 and 2009 under the city's proposed two-year budget, introduced late last month.

The budget reflects the fulfillment of City Council goals, the day-to-day operations of Sandy government's various departments and the city's fiscally conservative approach to financial forecasting, which includes 'rainy day' savings in the form of contingency funds.

'Overall we've always been fiscally conservative, and because of that we're in a pretty solid financial position,' said City Manager Scott Lazenby, the designated budget officer. 'We've been pretty careful about adding staff or services until we were confident we could do so.'

The city plans to spend $38,654,418 in the proposed biennial budget - an increase of more than $4.5 million (13 percent) from 2005-07.

Lazenby says those numbers don't say a lot about the size and scope of Sandy government, since much of the increase reflects one-time expenditures, not ongoing program costs.

'One-time capital varies a lot from year to year,' Lazenby said. 'It's just the nature of the beast.'

One-time expenditures, according to the budget message, are paid for by cash carryover balances from the previous biennium or special funding sources such as grants.

When one-time expenses are subtracted, the general operating budget has grown from $12,645,522 in 2005-07 to $14,845,078 - 17.4 percent.

Plus, some of the expenditures are counted twice - various funds (water, transit, etc.) are paying into the Operations Center fund, which in turn counts how it spends that money.

There will be a budget workshop at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 4. The budget committee, made up of citizens and city councilors, will discuss and debate the budget's terms, and will accept public input. Lazenby expects that the Wednesday, April 11, workshop will be the last, where committee members will make final recommendations to the City Council regarding the budget.

'They usually make quite a few,' Lazenby said. 'It does set the upper limit for the budget.'

Citizens are welcome to attend either meeting, which takes place at Sandy City Hall, 39250 Pioneer Blvd.

If residents aren't able to attend that meeting, the City Council will hold its official budget hearing - where it is expected to formally adopt the budget - at either the May 21 or June 4 meeting.

'Citizens are welcome to comment in any way,' Lazenby said.

Lazenby said the city takes an uncommon approach to budgeting. Rather than asking each department how much it needs for the biennium, Lazenby tells the departments how much they have to spend, based on a variety of factors including council goals, past budgets and special projects.

'Here I just tell them what their bottom line is,' he said, noting that he keeps in mind pay increases and external factors. 'It forces (departments) to be innovative. It's a pretty conservative approach.'

Lazenby asked department directors to submit budgets with a bottom line less than or equal to the 2005-07 budget (minus one-time expenditures).

On the other hand, departments may increase their budgets by raising greater revenues. For example, if the planning department makes more from permit fees than projected, those funds stay within the planning department and could go toward projects. Plus, departments may roll over any funds they didn't spend in the previous biennium.

'It gets us away from the spend-it-or-lose-it syndrome,' Lazenby said. 'If there's any criticism it's that it forces them to save too much.'

Lazenby wrote in the budget narrative that overall, the city had the following guidelines when preparing the budget: 1) Continuing expenses should be covered by continuing revenues; 2) cash balances in the general fund at the beginning of the biennium should be sufficient to cover expenses until property tax is received in November; and 3) new development should pay for itself (think systems development charges).


BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS

OVERALL

2005-07 budget: $34,194,582

2007-09 budget: $38,654,418 (13-percent increase)

Anticipated revenue: $37,768,317.61

POLICE

2005-07 budget: $2,496,168

2007-09 budget: $2,995,672 (20 percent increase)

Anticipated revenue: $660,475

Highlights:

- Expand the records clerk/secretary position from half-time to full-time.

- Install digital video cameras in patrol cars, at a one-time cost of $50,000.

- Purchase a new copy machine for the department for $15,000 (one-time expense).

- Spend $2,239,363 on salaries - an 11-percent increase overall (including the new staff position).

- Recommend hiring a new officer for 2009-11 budget cycle.

LIBRARY

2005-07 budget: $1,032,645

2007-09 budget: $1,050,515 (1.7-percent increase)

Anticipated revenue: $802,870

Highlights:

- Replace computers as recommended by tech staff at a cost of $12,000.

- Train all staff on the new computer system and in new software programs for $4,000.

- Replace library doors, flooring and carpeting - $15,400.

- Add more shelving to the adult fiction area ($3,250).

- Move the back wall computers to a position closer to the front desk ($2,700) and remodel the front desk area ($2,000).

- Also: The city proposes more than doubling its ongoing financial support of the library from $120,000 to $247,000.

RECREATION

2005-07 budget: $466,942

2007-09 budget: $559,514 (19.8-percent increase)

Anticipated revenue: $245,044

Highlights:

- Add 10 hours per week of staff time for a special events planner, bringing staffing level to 2.22 full-time equivalent (FTE). Total salaries budgeted for 2007-09: $192,637 (30-percent increase).

- Put an additional $6,000 toward the growing Music in Meinig concert series.

- Develop an online registration system that would allow people to sign up for Recreation Department activities electronically, at a cost of $10,000.

- Buy furniture ($5,000) and a cash register ($1,000).

ADMINISTRATION

2005-07 budget: $348,573

2007-09 budget: $537,447 (54.2-percent increase)

Anticipated revenue: $3,452

Highlights:

- Add one full-time I.T./network manager.

- Increase salaries for the 2.8 FTE† employees from $318,659 to $480,467 - a 43-percent increase from 2005-07.

- Pay $10,200 toward City Manager Scott Lazenby's Ph.D schooling at Portland State University's College of Urban and Public Affairs, almost double last year's contribution.

LEGAL/CITY ATTORNEY

2005-07 budget: $130,000

2007-09 budget: $198,000 (52.3-percent increase)

Anticipated revenue: $0

Highlights:

- Sandy saw an increased need for legal representation in the 2005-07 biennium, with a Measure 37 claim, Land Use Board of Appeals appeal and other issues. As of January, the city was approximately $20,000 over its 2005-07 budget for legal fees.

SENIOR SERVICES

2005-07 budget: $660,515

2007-09 budget: $764,236 (15.7-percent increase)

Anticipated revenue: $333,891

Highlights:

- Dedicate $1,000 to the senior music program.

- Put $71,278 into a contingency fund.

- Increase salaries for the 3.32 FTE employees by nearly $30,000.

PARKS CAPITAL FUND

Paid for by systems development charges

2005-07 budget: $1,594,116

2007-09 budget: $1,330,716 (16.5-percent decrease)

Anticipated revenue: $1,330,716

Highlights:

- Dedicate $45,000 toward the development of a 'Frisbee' golf course and tennis court at Deer Pointe Park in East Sandy.

- Reserve $150,000 for future parks projects, including a connection of the Hamilton Ridge path to the Dubarko and Tickle Creek trails.

- Provide for the engineering and construction of a Tickle Creek bike path, at a cost of $350,000.

- Use $25,000 for improvements to Knollwood Park, assuming the city acquires land in the new subdivision.

- Install drinking fountains at Jonsrud Viewpoint and the Sandy Skatepark.

- Continue to improve Meinig Park's parking lot, entrance, walking paths, etc., for $50,000 this biennium.

90k if eligible for SDCs. - Jonsrud/Skatepark.

Parks maintenance: The budget will increase to $430,431 from $384,411 (12 percent). Salaries of the 1.78 FTE employees will go up $29,021 overall, and the city will dedicate $30,000 for contracted maintenance for new neighborhood parks.

URBAN RENEWAL

Paid for with tax increment financing

2005-07 budget: $3,509,654

2007-09 budget: $2,549,351 (27.4-percent decrease)

Anticipated revenue: $2,549,351

Highlights:

- Although the $5 million urban renewal district is going to end this biennium, the city will make its biggest expenditure for this fund with $2 million for the utility wire undergrounding project in the downtown core.

- Reserve $100,000 for the downtown plaza project across from City Hall.

- Spend $200,000 for new pedestrian signals at Scales and at Pioneer and Proctor.

PLANNING

2005-07 budget: $686,184

2007-09 budget: $830,713 (21.1-percent increase)

Anticipated revenue: $715,186

Highlights:

- Budget $150,000 to handle special, long range planning projects - such as identifying locations for an expanded Sandy Post Office or encouraging development of destination restaurants - or to handle peaks in workload. This includes 'placeholder' funds for periodic review, which reserves money to possibly update Sandy's buildable lands inventory and consider expansion of the urban growth boundary.

- Increase staffing by 0.5 FTE, and salaries by $42,412 overall.

- Budget $1,000 for Planning Commission training.

STREETS

2005-07 budget: $2,172,419

2007-09 budget: $3,108,152 (43-percent increase)

Anticipated revenue: $3,108,152

Highlights:

- Systems development charges are expected to bring in $200,000 more in 2007-09 than in the last biennium.

- A proposed hike of 0.9 cents per gallon to the city's gas tax would bring in $157,000 more for streets this budget cycle.

- The city's federal motor fuel tax revenues would double to $120,000, and state gas tax revenues are expected to increase by about $30,000.

- Permit and plan review fees are expected to increase $35,000.

- The city plans to spend $110,000 more this biennium on street resurfacing and repair.

TRANSIT

2005-07 budget: $686,184

2007-09 budget: $830,713 (21-percent increase)

Anticipated revenue: $4,355,016

Highlights:

- The transit tax - 0.6 percent of payroll for all Sandy businesses - is expected to bring in $120,000 more this biennium.

- A new transit systems development charge would add $60,000 in revenue.

- State transit grants are expected to increase by $100,000 this biennium.

- The city's contract with Wheels to operate SAM, STAR and the JARC (Estacada) service is expected to jump from $510,000 to $800,000 for 2007-09.

- Increase the office assistant position from 0.5 FTE to full-time, and the receptionist position from 0.17 FTE to 0.2 FTE. Salary costs would increase 37.8 percent to $182,200.

- The department will put $1,720,000 towards construction of the combined transit/public works facility.

OTHER FUNDS

Water: The city plans to spend $2 million for monitoring equipment and security improvements. Dedicated $50,000 towards development of a new water source (Salmon River). Pay $585,000 for operation and maintenance of the water treatment system.

Sewer: Increase of $65,000 for contract operation and maintenance. Utility costs for the sewage treatment plant explode from $12,000 to $135,000.

Municipal court: Budgeted $10,713 less for 2007-09 biennium than in the 2005-07 cycle.

SandyNet: SandyNet expects to bring in $42,000 more in wireless charges and $20,400 in SandyNet business charges. Total revenues are expected to cover operating costs and system growth. The water and sewer funds will pay a 5-percent franchise fee to the SandyNet fund to help the telecom utility pay off the money it borrowed at its inception.

City Council/mayor: Proposed spending decrease of $13,830 for council supplies and activities (elected officials are unpaid volunteers), and thanks to a large cash carryover, the overall net effect is that spending will be about 1/3 the 2005-07 budget. Funds will replace some laptops.

Finance: Salaries for the two full-time-equivalent employees will increase about $33,000 in this next budget cycle, bringing the overall expenditures to an increase of $33,979. A robust cash carryover reduces that effect to only about $1,000, however.

Animal control/code enforcement: The city proposed spending $15,000 on a used cargo van for animal control, as well as 6.6 increase in salaries. Total expenditures estimated for this fund: $178,168.

Building: Budget for this department is $998,628 - about a 19.2-percent increase over 2005-07 - however, due to projected revenues of $1,048,845, the net impact to the budget will be a surplus of more than $50,000. The Building Department is also carrying over a contingency account as a buffer against the inevitable slowdown in construction activity.

Operations center: This one-time fund is paid for by transfers from other funds. The 2007-09 budget for the combined transit/public works facility is $4,025,997.

Non-departmental (miscellaneous): City utilities (gas, electricity, etc.) are going up $30,000 this biennium. Election expenses will increase from $2,000 to $5,000. It will cost $5,000 to replace the library/police station roof. Miscellaneous expenses, from Web site maintenance to professional memberships to the state-mandated purchase of art, are included in this fund, which increased 66.5 percent from $1,342,310 to $2,235,153. While a lot of small factors contributed to the jump, the biggest increase would be to the insurance and contingency fund line items.

†Note: FTE, or full-time equivalent, refers to staffing levels, not necessarily how many people work in a department. For example, 2.5 FTE doesn't necessarily mean that there are two full-time employees and one half-timer; it could mean that there are five half-timers, or one full-timer and two 3/4-time workers, or any other divisible.