The city also plans to spend $400,000 more this year to pay PERS costs

This year’s proposed city budget holds few surprises but will effectively eliminate the equivalent of two full-time positions while officials say there could be a debate among some over whether the police department has too many officers.

The Budget Committee meets at 6 p.m. Monday (April 22) in Sherwood City Hall council chambers.

City Manager Joe Gall said his budget calls for eliminating one position each in the planning and engineering department along with cutting an administrative assistant in public works and a human resources manager in city administration. All but one of those positions is vacant at the moment.

“Only one person is affected by these cuts,” said City Manager Joe Gall. “There is a perception among some people in the community in that we’re a fat organization and I don’t agree with that.”

Meanwhile, Gall is proposing the addition of a human resources analyst and a half-time administrative assistant in community development.

The proposed 2013-14 budget is $40.9 million compared to a current budget where the city is expected to spend $40.3 million by the end of the fiscal year.

Gall said plans are to spend the least amount of money in the last 10 years and that no services are proposed to be cut as part of the proposed budget.

Meanwhile, the general fund budget calls for $ 9.78 million, a $400,000 increase over the current $9.3 million.

“PERS (Public Employees Retirement System) is the primary driver there,” said Gall. “That’s why I’m really cutting positions.”

In considering the proposed budget, Gall said he deferred two spending requests.

One is to replace a $100,000 play structure at Murdock Park.

“I said, ‘no, I can’t afford it,’” Gall said.

The other project Gall “kicked down the curb” was spending between $150,000 to $175,000 for finance system software (which would have included a temporary employee’s salary to get the system up and running).

The city manager said when it came down to having to choose between purchasing the software or having to eliminate two police officer positions, “I am not eliminating cops because we don’t have enough cops.”

The Sherwood Police Department is the largest department cost with much of the general fund money invested in police services, said Gall.

The problem is that compared to neighboring cities, Sherwood has fewer officers.

“We’re below all our neighbors (officers to population),” said Gall. “We’re below all the standards in Oregon.”

Police Chief Jeff Groth said that Sherwood has 1.3 police officers and staff per 1,000 residents, which is far less than any neighboring city where officer to resident rates are at least 1.8 per 1,000.

Groth said he initially submitted a request for two new officers and an administrative staff person.

“We weren’t able to get (them) and I get that,” said Groth. “My next position is we can’t absolutely afford to cut anymore.”

However, what worries Groth are comments he’s heard from some that the city needs to reduce the number of officers. Gall said he expects a lively debate regarding the department.

Both Gall and Groth said increased retail ventures means more calls for service to those establishments. Kohl’s, where calls for shoplifting have appeared in recent months, is an example, Groth said. Another is the announcement soon of a major box store in a new retail complex on Langer Farms Parkway, say city officials.

Meanwhile, the budget for personnel services is predicted to increase 4.5 percent between the current fiscal year and the proposed 2013-14. The city is in the process of negotiating with the city’s two unions, representing the majority of employees.

Gall said although he’s due a cost of living raise, which would be an estimated $3,000, he said he won’t take it because of the fact it wouldn’t be fair in light of the fact he’s eliminating positions.

“I hope it’s an interesting, productive discussion,” Gall said of Monday’s budget meeting.

For the future, the issue will be between revenues and expenses, Gall said.

“This growing gap between revenues and expenses means that without revenue increases or expenditure decreases, future budgets can only be balanced by drawing down fund balance,” Gall wrote in his budget message. For the 2015-16 budget, the fund balance will dip below the 20 percent mark and be depleted by 2017-18.

“I’m just going to have to continue to cut in the general fund,” said Gall.

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