Police, streets are hot budget topics

Estacada City Council approves budget 6-1 after compromise

Though temperatures soared to over 100 outside on Monday, June 24, and the Estacada City Council chamber's air conditioning failed, discussion regarding the 2006-2007 city budget remained cool.

The Estacada City Council approved the fiscal budget in a 6-1 vote last week.

The City's budget committee, comprised of the City Council and an equal number of community volunteers, proposed transferring $65,000 from contingency fund to the street fund. The committee also proposed to add $34,000 to police coverage and $6,000 to the library fund.

After hearing comments from City staff, the council compromised by transferring $51,652 to the street fund. They increased the police coverage by $47,348, rather than the proposed $34,000. The council adopted the committee's recommendation to give the Estacada Public Library $6,000 to help with operating costs to add to county funding that has dwindled in recent years.

'People are always passionate about their issues, but I think we came to a healthy compromise,' said Estacada Mayor Bob Austin.

The additional police coverage funds will allow the city to expand its contract with the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office from 92 hours per week to 104. Law enforcement will now work five 16-hour days and two 12-hour days.

'We did our best to add back as much service as we could and still balance the budget,' said Estacada City Councilor Michele Conditt.

The $51,652 transfer to the street fund will allow for completion of six projects this fiscal year, costing $37,000. The remaining $14,652 will be placed in the street fund contingency.

'That's a lot of work. That's a lot of downtown work and some neighborhood work,' said Estacada City Manager Randy Ealy.

Streets on the 2006-2007 project list include part of Hill Way, Broadway Street from Highway 224 to the hill, 3rd Avenue between Main and Broadway and various pieces of Lake Shore Road.

The $5,136,205 budget is down from the 2005-2006 fiscal budget of $8,233,658 because the library construction project will be completed this month.

The council agreed unanimously to compromise on the amount of money to be split between streets and police coverage-two hot topics with citizens according to results from a city survey conducted in the spring of 2005-but Councilor Kay Nelson voted against passing the budget.

According to meeting minutes, Councilor Nelson said she would vote the budget down because she believes City employees should pay 20 percent of their health insurance premiums rather than the current 10 percent required.