Plan funds more road projects, reduces staff

The Lake Oswego City Council has adopted a $422 million budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year, pledging to reduce staff in part to fund road projects.

Budget committee chairman Dave Berg on Tuesday told the council that the spending plan aims “to address ongoing concerns of the community.”

“This is not a reduced budget but one that begins to direct funding to core issues that affect our community,” he said.

The city has “historically underfunded street maintenance” and would need $3 million annually to take care of its roads, Berg said. The adopted budget doesn’t allocate that much to paving, but it at least provides a start, he said.

Meanwhile, the city has been squeezed by rising costs to pay employees, while revenues have stayed mostly flat. Cutting 3 percent of the city’s total staff represents a “balanced approach” the committee hopes to continue in the future, Berg said.

The budget committee, responsible for fine-tuning a version of the plan proposed by the city manager, is made up of the mayor and six city councilors along with seven citizen volunteers.

Councilor Jon Gustafson was the lone vote against adopting the budget on Tuesday. He said he worried about cutting the city’s long-range planning staff and the public affairs manager.

“I think that good long-range planning is what’s made Lake Oswego ... as great as it is today; it’s one of the reasons it’s still livable,” he said. “I think it’s a little bit shortsighted to think all of our long-range planning is done after this fiscal year.”

In addition, he said, the city’s recent community survey showed that residents want more communication with the government, which means more support for public affairs.

However, Gustafson noted that he was overall “really supportive” of the budget committee’s process this year.

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