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St. Helens City Council adopts $37M budget

Plan provides for capital purchases, more staff hours

The city of St. Helens will be working with an adopted budget of more than $36.9 million in the next fiscal year.

That’s the total amount of city revenues in the budget document that the St. Helens City Council voted to accept Wednesday evening, June 17.

Actual appropriations in the budget — namely, the amount of money the city actually intends to spend, not including what it plans to keep in reserve and contingency funds — amount to not quite $24.1 million.

Before Wednesday’s vote, Council President Doug Morten praised this spring’s budget process, which was more drawn out than it had been in previous years. He said the additional time allowed the budget committee and city councilors to more closely examine the draft budget before it was finalized.

“Our big role on this council is to spend taxpayers’ money wisely,” Morten said. “I think that spreading it out a bit like that, spending almost three times as much time in dealing with it, was time well used.”

The budget document approved by the city’s budget committee last month totaled about $36.4 million. However, the budget grew by $500,000 due to an amendment appropriating money for the conversion of city streetlights to energy-efficient LED fixtures.

City Administrator John Walsh said the city has already received three proposals from contractors interested in working on the streetlight project. If the cost of the project exceeds what is budgeted, he told councilors, the city can dip into contingency funds to cover it.

The budget also contains “add-backs” restoring some staff hours that were cut over the past few years. More money is available in the budget for staff at the St. Helens Public Library, for example, than in previous years.

There is also money set aside in the budget to pay for the planned acquisition of the Boise Cascade Co. and Boise Inc. industrial properties, although the former is expected to be purchased this month, before the current fiscal year ends.

The next fiscal year begins July 1.