Lower employee expenses, higher tax revenue boost budget to $38.7 million

The city of Troutdale may add three new employees to various departments and fund several infrastructure projects under a proposed $38.7 million budget submitted to councilors last week.

Increased revenue from property taxes and a change in how much the city pays to the state's public employees retirement system allowed Troutdale officials to save $375,000, said Kathy Leader, city finance director.

'It is significant savings for us,' she said.

The proposed budget would be a 13-percent increase over the previous budget. General fund spending would increase 10 percent to $13.1 million.

About $5 million would be dedicated to redeveloping the sewage treatment plant, while $1.4 million would go toward wells. The proposed budget would also provide $760,000 toward a new parks building at Columbia Park, $173,700 to replace vehicles, $125,000 for City Hall renovations and $85,000 for work on Frontage Road.

The city had been paying into the state retirement system at a rate of 17.19 percent. Under new calculations the rate will be 8.15.

Those savings, combined with more building permit revenue and keeping spending in check, has added to the city general fund, Leader said.

The revenue comes from commercial building and 'a significant amount of residential development,' she said.

Under the proposed budget, three full-time jobs would be added in the public works department, the parks and facility division and the city recorder's office. The community development division would be able to add a part-time secretary, while the city attorney could add a half-time legal assistant position. The breathing room is a welcome relief after a couple years of declining general fund revenues, Leader said.

'We've been really controlling costs, and it's helped us increase general fund reserves,' she said. 'Two real strong years have given us some cushion.'

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