Funds needed to pay for fire service cost increase

WOOD VILLAGE - The City Council unanimously approved the city's 2006-07 budget last week.

'I think there's a lot of positive things happening in the budget,' said Wyatt Parno, Wood Village's finance director. 'This year we're holding the line.'

Parno is projecting a $2.8 million beginning-fund balance for the 2006-07 fiscal year.

The city's 2006-07 budget totals $10.7 million, $4.5 million of which makes up the city's general fund.

Compared with Wood Village's 2005-06 budget, the total is up 20 percent, thanks in part to a number of capital improvement projects - the construction of a new well and reservoir and two new sewer lines - that will be completed in 2006-07.

Another major change can be attributed to an increase in fire service rates.

'We did take a big hit this year,' Parno said.

Wood Village contracts with Gresham Fire and Emergency Services for fire protection, as do Fairview and Troutdale. As part of a two-year ramp-up to get costs in line with what the city of Gresham pays for similar services, Wood Village will pay $50,000 more for fire services in 2006-07 than in 2005-06.

Although costs have risen in some areas, Parno sees positive changes in the budget as well.

City officials have committed to keeping the costs for materials and services flat, and the cost of employee benefits has decreased by an estimated 3 percent, Parno said.

'We haven't seen that in a number of years,' Parno said.

The savings stems from the decision that city employees will receive only cost-of-living adjustments next year, not step-increases.

Public Employees Retirement System costs also remained the same, which benefited the city.

Short-term financial projections look better than they did a few years ago because of an improving economy, but local cities still could face a number of pitfalls.

'We have to keep a watchful eye,' Parno said, noting that the city's future financial projections could be somewhat grim if certain revenue sources disappear.

Wood Village receives approximately $110,000 annually from the Multnomah County Business Income Tax, which may only be paid through July 1, 2008. County commissioners approved a budget Thursday, June 22, which includes a resolution that acts as the required-two year notice to terminate that tax.

The money the city receives in the form of state-shared revenues, such as liquor and cigarette taxes and cable franchise fees may also be on the line.

Fairview and Troutdale also recently approved their respective 2006-07 budgets.

Members of the Fairview City Council unanimously approved the city's budget Wednesday, June 7, even though one councilor voiced concerns about the rate at which the city was paying down its debt.

After amending the 2006-07 budget to include specifications as to how money for the Troutdale Historical Society should be used, the Troutdale City Council also unanimously approved its budget.

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