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Budget bump includes Gain Share transfer

The 2014-2015 fiscal year budget approved at last week’s Hillsboro City Council is almost $450 million, a 16.6 percent increase from last fiscal year.

However, this abnormally large jump is deceptive, said Michelle Wareing, assistant finance director. She pointed out that money transferred between funds is counted twice, as it exits and enters a fund. Spending money is actually $300,000 less than last year.

One of these twice-counted funds is a $5 million transfer from the Gain Share fund to the general fund. With property tax abatements for Hillsboro industrial giants such as Intel, the city ends up losing money. To make up for this loss, the state shares property taxes with the city and the county. This year’s Gain Share revenue is $9.5 million.

Once transferred, the money will be kept in reserves in the general fund as a sort of savings account to help keep up with annual operating costs. Most cities find property taxes only cover operating costs for about nine months, so Hillsboro decided to take the opportunity provided by the Gain Share money to help cover this time gap for future years.

The remaining money from the Gain Share revenue will be spent on a $1.9 million payment to Washington County K-12 schools, bike and pedestrian safety projects, funding for the North Hillsboro Industrial District development plan and downtown improvements.

Another $1 million is budgeted for the “downtown core conversion,” a project that involves converting several downtown streets from one-way to two-way. The project is estimated to be completed by June 30, 2016, with expected expenses totalling $2.5 million.

The budget also includes $2.8 million for design, planning and construction on water supply improvements. As Hillsboro anticipates its water needs doubling in the next 20 to 25 years, the city is partnering with the Tualatin Valley Water District to build a 26-mile pipeline to bring water from the Willamette River.

Also, several employees — a mix of full-time and part-time — were added to the city’s work force. In public works, three new positions were added, including facilities technician and an electrician. The technician and electrician are needed to help maintain new Hillsboro buildings. The Water Department also added three new positions, including a utility worker, a project manager and an instrumentation technician.

The budget accounts for a proposed 6 percent increase in water rates, but a rate hearing will be held July 8 at 7 p.m. in the Civic Center to determine the exact amount. If approved, the new rate will take effect Oct. 1. Increasing the water rate is proposed due to inflation and to cover the costs of adding new employees, according to the Water Department’s spokesperson, Tacy Steele.

A 2013-2014 supplemental budget was approved by the Hillsboro City Council last week, increasing the 2013-2014 budget by almost $2.25 million. Funds were added to the general fund, the support services fund, the sewer system development changes fund, the Intermodal Transit Facility and the Jackson Bottom Preserve fund.



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