Associations requesting increased stipends
Fixed annual stipend would increase from $300 to $500
As neighborhood associations continue to be a focus for the 2016 West Linn City Council, a new funding proposal will soon be submitted by the Neighborhood Association Presidents (NAP) group for council review.
The request, according to NAP Chair Ed Schwarz, is rather minor, a fixed annual allocation of $500 for each neighborhood association as opposed to the current $300. The NAs are also allotted additional funding based on population.
The City provides a total of $10,000 for the stipends, Schwarz said in an email. It retains $1,000 of this amount in an emergency fund, portions of which can be requested by any NA in need of additional funding. The remaining $9,000 is distributed to the NAs.
Our proposal is to increase the fixed amount to $500 per NA and continue to distribute the rest of the $9,000 on a proportional basis by population.
At the current $300 baseline, total annual stipends run as low as $390 (in the less populated Skyline Ridge area) and as high as $1,711 in denser areas like Willamette. That structure would remain in place under the new policy, but with a $500 baseline as opposed to $300.
NAs have discretion to use the money as they see fit, Schwarz said. As an example, Savanna Oaks has used some of our stipend to purchase signs advertising our monthly meetings, benches for the White Oak Savanna Park and to purchase items used at our annual ice cream social.
According to Assistant City Manager Kirsten Wyatt, NA stipends are intended to provide funding for neighborhood events and activities, to build community and help neighbors connect. Weve also seen NAs spent their funds on things like benches, signs and outreach, she said.
Schwarz pointed out that neighborhood associations have seen their stipends shrink in recent years, an action that prompted this new proposal. In 2012, total allocations for neighborhood associations went from $16,500 to $10,000.
The Citys original proposal in 2012 was to cut stipends down to a total of $6,000 per year, but the West Linn Budget Committee comprised of citizens and the council unanimously voted to increase that to $10,000.
The City used to provide a larger amount for the stipends, but a previous City Council cut that amount to its current level, Schwarz said. NAs serve a valuable public outreach purpose and the NA presidents look forward to discussing the total allocation amount with the current City Council at a future meeting.
The exact date for that meeting has yet to be set.
Banking statements show that the citys 10 neighborhood associations hold just over $45,000 in their reserves at this time. In October 2014, that number was about $47,500.
(Spending) varies from one NA to another, Schwarz said. Some NAs may spend most, or all, of their allocation each year. Some prefer to not spend their allocation (or to spend only part of it) for a few years so that they can save up for a larger project to benefit the residents.
Indeed, Schwarzs neighborhood association, Savanna Oaks, holds about $2,200 in its funds right now, while other associations like Bolton ($7,000) and Parker Crest ($8,370) have carried over substantially more.
While not all file them, NAs are required to complete annual reports to the City, outlining accomplishments of the past year and goals for the coming one. Along with several suggestions for City-funded projects, Boltons 2016 goals include purchasing new signs to announce meetings and some native plant restorations. The reports can be found at westlinnoregon.gov/citycouncil/2015-annual-report-council-goals-and-citizen-advisory-groups.
Ultimately, whether the stipends increase or not will be left up to the City Council.
We sent our recommendation to the City Council for approval, Schwarz said. That recommendation is on the pending list to be added to a future City Council meeting agenda.