Tigards 2006-07 budget includes a number of urban renewal projects

The city will add four FTE employees and study ways to relieve 99W congestion

TIGARD - The City Council on June 13 adopted the city's 2006-07 fiscal year budget, which takes effect July 1.

In the previous two months, the Budget Committee, which is made up of five citizen members and the City Council, held four public hearings giving citizens an opportunity to provide input.

The total adopted budget of $77.7 million includes the city's operating budget, community-investment program, debt service, transfers and contingency fund, according to Finance Director Robert Sesnon.

The operating budget of $34.6 million is a 5.1 percent increase over the 2005-06 fiscal year revised budget and includes a net increase of four full-time equivalent employees.

A patrol officer and a school resource officer have been added to the Police Department to provide the resources needed to help maintain public safety in the city and the Tigard-Tualatin School District.

Two half-time positions have been added to the Tigard Public Library to maintain service levels for patrons as use of the new library continues to grow significantly.

Finally, an administrative assistant position has been added to the Community Development Department to assist with the update of the city's Comprehensive Plan, Sesnon said.

Many of the elements of the 2006-07 budget are directed at addressing City Council goals established this past January.

The three major council goals include revising the city's Comprehensive Plan, implementing the Downtown Plan and improving the Highway 99W corridor.

'The council also established other important goals regarding citizen communication, park and greenspace acquisition, providing services to unincorporated areas, securing a long-term water source and stabilizing the city's financial picture, which are reflected in the budget,' Sesnon said.

In the May 16 election, citizens approved the formation of Tigard's first urban renewal district.

The city's urban renewal district will use tax-increment financing to implement the Downtown Plan; however, funds generated from the district will not materialize for several years as assessed values in the area will need to grow.

To help start the redevelopment process, the budget includes $3 million for capital projects in the downtown area. These projects include an enhanced commuter rail station, downtown comprehensive streetscape design, parkland acquisition and improvements to Ash Avenue and Burnham, Main and Commercial streets.

Although Highway 99W is owned by the state, the city has been working to improve this highway because it runs through the middle of Tigard. Funds are budgeted in 2006-07 to improve traffic flow at two intersections - Hall Boulevard/99W and Greenburg Road/99W.

The city will also be receiving a Transportation and Growth Management grant, which is administered by the Oregon Department of Transportation.

'This grant provides funding for a corridor study of Highway 99W,' Sesnon said. 'The study will look at options that both the city and ODOT can implement in the future to help the congestion on this important regional highway.'

To address the other council goals, the adopted budget includes funds to implement a new neighborhood organization program, $1.2 million for parkland acquisition, $560,000 for water projects related to securing a long-term water source, and $75,000 for performance audits as recommended by the city's Financial Strategy Task Force.

In 2005-06, the City Council established the task force, which then reviewed the city's financial situation over an eight-month period. The task force concluded that the city's financial affairs are well managed and that the city is not providing any unnecessary services.

The task force made several recommendations, including contracting for outside performance audits. The audits will be done on selected city services and should provide recommendations for improvements to those services.

The 2006-07 budget also includes $21.7 million for the Community Investment Program's capital projects. Several of those capital projects are listed above.

Other capital projects include construction of a skate park, development of the Washington Square Regional Center Trail, continuation of the citywide sewer extension program, culvert replacements and purchase of additional water reservoir sites.

Like other government agencies, Tigard is projecting revenue shortfalls in the general fund within the next five years.