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Wilsonville council adopts 2014-15 budget without further changes

Criticism leveled at budget committee members for surprise questions


by: SPOKESMAN FILE PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - The Barber Street extension is one of the top capital project priorities for the city for fiscal year 2014-15, under a budget adopted Monday by the Wilsonville City Council. The current terminus of Barber Street at the eastern edge of Villebois is shown here. It took a public hearing that lasted closer to five minutes than five hours.

But the end result was the same, as Wilsonville City Councilors on Monday adopted a 2014-15 city budget that remains unchanged from the document approved last month by the city’s budget committee.

Councilors went forward with a $122.5 million all-funds budget for fiscal year 2014-15, keeping in place a $375,000 reduction in the proposed budget approved earlier by the city budget committee. That decision came against the wishes of Alan Steiger, budget committee chairman, who submitted a letter prior to Monday’s public hearing urging the council to restore the cuts approved last month by the committee.

There was little discussion of the numbers prior to the final vote – that was taken care of over the course of two earlier budget meetings. But afterward, several councilors criticized – without naming names – the conduct of budget committee members who failed to attend the first of those two meetings only to raise complex and often ideological questions during the second.

“I was disappointed that the opportunities to meet and discuss the budget in depth at the first meeting was not really taken advantage of like it could have been,” said Councilor Julie Fitzgerald, referring to committee member and fellow councilor Richard Goddard and committee member Wendy Buck, both of whom attended only the second meeting.

“We were missing 20 percent of our members at that first meeting,” Fitzgerald said. “And we gave notices of the meeting dates. That said, things can happen, drastic emergencies can come up and people can’t attend meetings. I just hope that when we recruit people for these committees – if they can’t attend – find a way to ask these questions ahead of time so we can hear those questions and respond to them as well as possible.”

Goddard, who announced earlier this year he will not run for re-election in November, was also absent from Monday’s council meeting and the final vote to adopt the budget.

Mayor Tim Knapp said he has “some sympathy” for Steiger’s position and added he also was “troubled” by the “late arrival of discussion” at the second meeting. He said this did not allow staff to prepare a response to questions posed about the operating budget and other issues.

“I do not think that is the best way to run a budget operation,” Knapp said. “I think that the staff has done a very fine job and I think the performance of the city overall is indicative that we have been efficient and effective in the use of public funds.”

Knapp and Fitzgerald both agreed that a more in-depth discussion of the budget is a positive step forward and should take place next year. But it needs to be planned out ahead of time, Knapp emphasized.

“I do hope that next year’s discussion will be more forthright and earlier in the budget committe dynamic,” Knapp said, “and I look forward to more opportunities to respond to concerns that are raised and to have discussion of actual concerns about how the city budget is working as opposed to philosophy about the budget or governmental approach, I guess I should say.”

In the end, what started as a proposed $15.0 million personnel budget for 2014-15 instead was cut by $162,000, part of what is now an overall $35.25 million city operating budget.

The city meanwhile will see $215,000 trimmed from materials and services for a final budget in that area of $18.4 million. It’s a wide-ranging category that includes everything from utilities, offices supplies and advertising to employee development and a more.

In addition, the all-funds budget contains $25.04 million for capital projects in 2014-15.

$25.04 million; $8.5 million of that will be paid for by urban renewal funding, with another $5 million coming from federal sources. This compares with a 2013-14 capital projects budget of $29.28 million. The decline comes from the completion of the city’s new wastewater treatment plant, a $44 million project that was completed earlier this year on time and under budget.

For the coming year, said city Capital Projects Manager Eric Mende, the main projects to be carried out are the extension of Canyon Creek Road South and Barber Street. The first will be paid for with Eastside Urban Renewal District funding, the latter with Westside District funding. An additional $2.7 million in federal money will also be used for the Barber Street project, which the city expects to go to bid by August. T

he Canyon Creek project, meanwhile, should be bid by the end of this month, and is expected to be complete by fall.

Complete budget figures are available online at ci.wilsonville.or.us/DocumentCenter/View/5800.

For a detailed summary, visit: ci.wilsonville.or.us/DocumentCenter/View/6290.




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