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Milwaukie to cut staff regardless of May vote

If Milwaukie voters don’t open their wallets during the May election, the city will have to make estimated cuts almost twice the size of budget slashes already in the works.

Milwaukie Finance Director Casey Camors presented a draft budget April 10 to city councilors and other members of the city’s Budget Committee. Even with the bond measure passing, there will be a deficit in maintaining the current budget, she revealed Thursday.

Equivalent to full time, 4.4 positions are to be cut in the current draft budget for the next two years, as compared with the last biennial budget. Among those to be cut is the position of former Parks and Sustainability Director JoAnn Herrigel, who retired last year after leading the Riverfront Park project. Also on the chopping block, even if the bond measure passes, are an administrative supervisor, a senior planner, a code compliance specialist and various part-time positions.

A PERS (Public Employees Retirement System) rate increase of 3 percent and a reduction in photo-radar revenues are anticipated as part of this budget. City Manager Bill Monahan said that people have been slowing down when they see the radar van, and other factors for the decrease include police staffing shortages and a transition from film to digital.

In case of the bond measure failing, the Budget Committee is scheduled to meet May 29 to come up with an alternative plan that would take into account another $200,000 in annual cuts, Monahan said. If it failed on a vote of 51 percent to 49 percent, Monahan argued, that might cause the council to develop a budget that would assume another ballot-measure attempt rather than cut another two or three positions outright. The implications of the bond measure have to be taken into account over the course of two years, Monahan said.

“We need to have a Plan B identified,” argued Councilor Scott Churchill, so that voters know what that might look like. Councilor Mark Gamba said that the city’s adviser on passing the bond measure recommended that the city not identify the cuts that would take effect in case of a failure at the polls.

“It’s a lose-lose situation,” Gamba said, arguing that voters will see the proposed cuts as a threat to vote for the measure.

“Transparency never hurts,” Miller said. “Being accountable to me means that we tell them up front how it’s going to be, and then let the chips fall as they may.”

“Most sound business practices do have a Plan B,” Churchill said, garnering the support of Councilor Dave Hedges, but other members of the Budget Committee decided to let the issue drop.

Monahan will formally propose the budget April 24, and additional meetings are scheduled for additional review and discussion of the budget at 6 p.m. May 29 and June 5 at City Hall.



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