Apr 25, 2006

Troutdale Public Safety is the #1 Priority

The Troutdale Budget Committee wrapped up its annual deliberations last week. A highlight for me was the funding of an additional police officer.

Originally, city staff decided not to add 2 additional police officers as requested by Troutdale Police Chief Nelson. I thought Chief Nelson made a good business case for the additional officers, so I requested city staff to find a way to fund one and perhaps two additional officers. The Troutdale budget committee has a history of making public safety a priority.

At Wednesday night’s budget committee meeting, city staff and the budget committee came up with several recommended revenue and cost changes to add one additional police officer. I made the motion to officially fund the extra position, which passed by a unanimous vote.

Unfortunately, this meant cutting other areas of Troutdale’s budget. As part of the budget cuts to fund an additional police officer, I made a motion to eliminate the mayor’s annual stipend of $6000. I felt this was a much lower priority than public safety. According to a League of Oregon Cities survey, only about 30% of Oregon cities pay stipends to their mayor or city councilors. This motion failed on a 5-5 vote.

I then made another motion to cut the mayor’s stipend from $6000 to $3000. The reason? Of those few Oregon cities who do pay a mayor’s stipend, almost all the cities of a comparable size to Troutdale (pop. 15,000) paid a stipend of around $3000. This motion passed by an 8-2 vote.

Another cut agreed to by the budget committee was $18,000 for an economic development position that was not filled. We were actually paying a portion of Fairview’s Economic Development position held by Eric Underwood. This gave us Underwood’s services one day per week. You can see some of his work here. However, Underwood took a position with another city and the position has been unfilled.

There were some controversial items in the budget, such as $250,000 to develop Sunrise Park. Most people I have talked to don’t want the park changed at all. We’ll see what happens as the city’s Park Master Plan is updated.

If you’d like more details of the 2006-07 budget, feel free to e-mail the city at info@ci.troutdale.or.us., You can also contact me with comments or questions at Robert@robertcanfield.com.

There are many unanswered questions concerning the 2006-07 budget. Our PERS contribution may increase from around 19% of total payroll to 21% or higher. Our health insurance costs are not predictable. Union negotiations will take place during this budget cycle, with a still to be determined fiscal impact. Our building permit and inspection fees may not match revenue estimates.

Our fire costs are also increasing by 3-4% per year. There may not be enough general fund revenue coming into the city to cover all public safety expenses within a few years. I believe we will probably have to ask Troutdale voters for a public safety levy in the near future. Not good news, but that’s how I see it.

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