Canby's $31 million budget includes the elimination of seven positions, with the hope that those laid off could fill other roles

With revenues still not catching up to city expenses, the budget axe fell hard this budget cycle. Tucked into the pages of the recently approved city of Canby $31 million budget is some tough news.

The approved budget includes the elimination of seven city positions, one reduced position from 40 to 32 hours per week, and a decision not to fill a vacant police officer post.

Interim City Administrator Amanda Zeiber said the decisions were hard ones, but that time and money simply ran out after years of concerted effort to keep people employed despite tough economic times.

“Most reductions were a result of a general fund deficit. Other changes were the result of an organizational restructure,” said Zeiber. “The trend for many years has been more expenses than revenues. Expenses continue to rise at a higher rate than the revenues increase, primarily due to increasing personnel costs, which make up about 70 percent of the general fund expenses. While other cities have had layoffs over the past few years, we were able to retain personnel by utilizing contingencies and reserves. Our goal is to work towards the best practice policy for an appropriate contingency.

“In addition, we need to have a structurally balanced budget, which means that recurring revenue equals or exceeds recurring expense. We are not yet there and will continue efforts to achieve a structurally balanced budget,” she added.

Additions include a new public works director and a pre-treatment coordinator at the wastewater treatment plant.

“The environmental services manager position that was created two years ago will be eliminated and the duties and responsibilities will be absorbed by current staff, a new pre-treatment coordinator and a public works director,” said Zeiber. “This is similar to the structure we had a couple years ago. This restructure is an effort to create efficiencies and best utilize the limited resources to address all the necessary needs. It will allow staff members to work closely together on environmental issues.

“The public works director position has been vacant for over two years, creating a supervision and oversight deficiency between the 21 public works employees and city administration,” she added.

“The public works director will also be responsible for master planning, coordination with other agencies and oversight of the environmental program. The new pre-treatment coordinator will oversee the pre-treatment program and environmental regulatory pieces.”

The library director position, last held by Penny Hummel until her resignation in October 2014, as it was previously defined, will be eliminated along with a general fund transfer to the library.

“The library manager-director position will be redefined to reflect the day to day management and long term planning for the library, with assistance from a supervising librarian,” said Zeiber. “We will still need the marketing, fundraising, project management and library design skill set to build a new library-civic building. We will either hire someone on a limited duration for the scope of the project or contract the services out through the project manager or architect — meaning they would be required to have a library expert on their teams to advise during the project.”

However, there may be some opportunity for those losing their jobs in the new budget.

Zeiber said that “We will offer vacant positions to the employees being laid off first in an effort to avoid losing qualified and valued staff members.”

She then laid out what will be open and could be filled by those being let go.

Two parks maintenance positions are included in the layoff. The budget committee approved a new maintenance position funded primarily by sewer-storm funds. This position will assume the duties currently performed by streets and storm personnel, including maintenance along First Avenue and Second Avenue by the Cinema, in addition to maintenance of city right-of-ways, bio-swales, etc.

A small portion of the funding may come from the general fund for the basic maintenance of city facilities.

“We also have a vacant maintenance worker position in streets and collections,” Zeiber said. “Both of the positions mentioned will be made available to the parks maintenance workers who are being laid off. They are both very qualified and can move over without any loss of seniority or compensation. We are happy that we will be able to place these two qualified employees.“

Additionally, the environmental services manager will have an opportunity to pursue the new part-time pre-treatment coordinator position and the two laid off office specialists will have an opportunity to be considered for a library position that was recently vacated.

Zeiber pointed to other changes in the next budget.

The new budget will close two funds — the street reserve is being combined with the street fund and the parks development fund capital activity has been included in the parks department of the general fund.

Additionally, the budget includes one new fund and one new department in the general fund — the new System Development Charge (SDC) Fund is being created to record and maintain restricted improvement SDC revenue.

The new Economic Development Department has been created to enhance transparency, align accounting form with methodology substance and memorialize costs to initiate conversation on succession planning for this function subsequent to the end of URA operations.

Zeiber said that this fund delineates city staff that are performing services to implement URA initiatives, therefore all materials and services are now reported as due to city rather than split to contract staff in the URA budget.

The city’s new Municipal Audit and Financial Oversight Committee is working on updating the city’s financial policies including a reserve policy, a structurally balanced budget policy, an investment policy and other policies based on best practices in the government finance industry.

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