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Council approves new budget for Lake Oswego

Biggest chunk of budget - $43 million - goes into the public safety fund

The Lake Oswego City Council passed the city's two-year budget of $192.7 million Tuesday.

The budget, which is called the 2007-2009 biennium budget, goes into effect July 1.

The spending plan reflects a 2 percent increase over the budget for the last biennium. Some of that increase is due to early phase costs of the Oswego Lake interceptor line - a project that eventually may total about $100 million.

Richard Seals, the city's finance director, said the budget does not call for a tax rate increase. But each year, the county can increase assessed values of properties by 3 percent. That has been the case since 1996, when Oregon voters passed Measure 50, which capped annual assessed value increases.

In addition to the $12 million needed over the next two fiscal years for the interceptor project, the city will hire two more full-time positions, bringing its total staff level to 354. It is estimated that another $78 million will be needed in the 2009-2011 budget, relating to the extension project.

The total budget for capital projects will be $37 million in the upcoming biennium, compared with $27 million in the last.

In addition to the sewer project, the city has budgeted $10 million for water, surface water, street and system development projects. Another $4.7 million will be for park projects.

The city will cover a $1 million reduction in county library levy support, and pay an additional 8.5 percent for health insurance. And the city will spend $2 million in interest on the West End Building on Kruse Way, which might become the site of a community center.

The city will spend $150,000 more this biennium on neighborhood planning.

The biggest chunk of the budget goes to the public safety fund, which includes police, fire and 911 dispatch. That budget will increase 9 percent, for a total of $43 million. The police department will hire a new 911 dispatch operator, and other funds will go toward new vehicles and the possible site acquisition for the South Shore fire station.

The city's portion of a tax bill on a $300,000 home would increase from $1,574 to $1,620 in the first year of the two-year budget. In the second year, it would increase to $1,648.

Sandy Leybold, chair of the Citizens Budget Committee, said the budget is 'relatively less controversial than some in the past.' She said this budget, for example, won't include any reduced library hours, as in previous years.

She said the committee amended the proposed budget to include the after school program of the Lake Oswego Asset Builders program, which will receive $70,000 in each of the next two years.