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City committee closes in on approving budget

Government — Community support funds not included in budget proposal, although transit services receive dedicated fund

The city’s budget is on its way to City Council following the budget committee’s deliberative meetings over the past couple weeks.

Newberg’s proposed 2016-2017 budget is about 5.6 percent smaller than it was last year, totaling $86,797,656. The budget covers the city’s expenses for July 1 of this year through June 30, 2017.

The proposed budget, City Manager Steve Rhodes said in an introductory budget message, “is built to address maintaining quality services and implementing council strategic priorities.”

Those priorities were identified through a goal-setting process in the fall, and include a focus on community visioning, technology, finance, communications and staffing.

Although at first glance it appears the city is cutting nearly 18 full-time equivalency (an employment measurement) positions, there’s more to the story.

Personnel changes

Because of the Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue contract with the city, the 25 firefighter positions are no longer part of the city line item budget – they are funded through the contract.

But five FTE positions are actually being added this year, four full-time jobs and two half-time positions.

The new positions proposed with the budget are a systems administrator in the information technology department (IT), an information officer in the city manager’s office, a planner in the community development department, a grounds facility and maintenance worker in the public works department, a new half-time position in the human resources department and the increase of a half-time finance position up to full-time.

Other expansions of existing positions account for one additional FTE in the budget as well.

The fire department fund appears much different on paper, but the cost is planned to be much the same as it has been in the past – the expense, estimated at roughly $8.5 million to be spent in the next two years for TVF&R service – is simply treated entirely as “contractual services.” The only other funding to the department is to its sole official employee, a clerical position.

Community support

Prior to last year the city budget allocated a small pool of funds to several community organizations, including the Newberg Downtown Coalition, the Old Fashioned Festival, the Newberg Animal Shelter and more.

Former City Manager Jacque Betz recommended last year that the budget committee refrain from funding community organizations through that fund, and instead put the money back into other government operations.

One of the organizations that formerly received funding from the community support pool was the Yamhill County Transit Area service, and while the proposed budget this year does not give any funding to community organizations just like last year, it does include creating a new fund to be dedicated solely to transit services.

Rhodes explained to the committee that the transit funding was included based on the feeling that the city has an obligation to contribute to alternative transportation services. He differentiated it from the other organizations that received community support funds, like the Old Fashioned Festival.

Representatives from Homeward Bound Pets and Your Community Mediators spoke at the initial meeting, requesting the city consider extending funding to their groups.

Deliberations continue

Among other smaller items, funds are budgeted to equip the council, the city manager and city recorder with iPads to allow a shift into automated council packets this summer. The packets will be delivered directly onto city officials’ iPads. Councilor Scott Essin brought up reimbursement for council members’ costs throughout the year. His estimate was that it costs at least $5,000 each year to perform council duties. Rhodes said that could be brought up during deliberations on the budget.

A public hearing on the proposed budget took place after press time Tuesday evening. A portion of the meeting was dedicated to discussing how the city could use money it gets through the state shared revenue program.

The City Council will consider the budget after a public hearing June 6.

To view the budget, visit www.newbergoregon.gov/ budgetcommittee.