Communities, Front Page, Oakridge/Westfir

Oakridge city budget meeting #3

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Oakridge City Hall Herald photo

June 7, 2022

By GARY CARL/for The Herald  —  The third Budget Committee meeting was held on June 7, 2022.  There were no public comments either from the Zoom audience or those in physical attendance at City Hall.

THE PARKS BUDGET

The Parks Budget was reviewed, and Counselor Whitney expressed her opinion that some of the funds that were stripped out of the Parks Budget last year should be put back in this year’s iteration.  Whitney pointed out that the Public Works Department has stepped up to continue providing maintenance on our parks, but she said, “it’s a struggle to get things done” and she hoped that some of the funds taken out last year could be put back in this year’s budget.

Counselor Kinyon said that before deciding to put any money back into the Parks Budget, she wants to see where we stand overall.  This sentiment was echoed by Mayor Hollett.

The total budget for “Materials and Services” is $49,910.  In the past the Parks Budget was $84,152.

THE WILLAMETTE ACTIVITY CENTER

There is a group of private citizens working on securing grant funding for renovation of the Willamette Activity Center (WAC).  As a component of this group’s effort, there is a State Grant for $1,500,000.

A substantial portion of this Grant will be used as matching funds for other grants that the committee is seeking.

Councilor Audy Spliethof questioned the amount of “Administrative Overhead” listed as $13,143.  This was a recurring theme brought up by Spliethof at virtually every “General Fund Budget”.  Why, he repeatedly asked, is the amount of Administrative Overhead so high?  The answer is: “Administrative Overhead” is a cost allocation assigned to each individual departmental budget to reflect the administrative costs allocated to that department.

Martin suggested that $13,143 for administrative overhead was probably too little as a considerable amount of administrative work will be required on this project.

Counselor Kinyon asked whether we have already received the money.  And if not, would it be in one lump sum or as reimbursements?  Temporary City Administrator, Kevin Martin, did not know the answer but indicated he would check with Grace Kaplowitz, the intern working most closely with this matter.

Also, not reflected in this budget are the costs that will be required to secure the building.  Martin reported he had been in discussions with Robeart Chrisman, the manager of the Public Works Department, and they were in agreement that it was absolutely essential that the building breezeway be secured against vagrants and vandalism.

MUNICIPAL COURT BUDGET

There was little discussion regarding the proposed budget for the Municipal Court except Counselor Spliethof once again spotted the line item for Administrative Overhead.  Why, he queried, does the Municipal Court need to spend that much on their administrative overhead?  The answer: as before: It’s an allocation from the General Fund.

EMERGENCY SERVICES FUND

Captain Scott Hollett introduced the EMERGENCY SERVICES FUND.   Little to say except that our ambulance service, which is required to cover a very large area, is and has been losing revenue.     About $469,386 is being transferred in from the General Fund; Another $120,000 comes from the Public Safety Fee.  Without the addition of the funds from the Public Safety Fee, (that’s the $22 surcharge added onto your water bill each month) the General Fund would not be able to balance. This was explained by both Martin & Colleen Shirley, finance director.

SUMMARY

Martin is concerned about the financial status of the City next year.  This year Oakridge had the infusion of ARPA funds.  All those funds are being spent.  Next year ARPA funds will not be available.  What will happen then?  Seems like a legitimate concern.

Services must be paid for with tax revenues; if not, then cuts will need to be made and those cuts will have to be from personnel.  Right now, we are simply kicking the can down the road.

Gary Carl is a retired judge of the Lane County Justice Court. He currently lives with his partner, Lynda Kamerrer & their cat, Lucy. Gary can be reached at [email protected] Gary Carl photo

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