Proposed Lake Oswego City budget keeps strong emphasis on infrastructure
Lake Oswego's Budget Committee unanimously approved a proposed $245.9 million budget for 2017-18 last week, sending it on to the City Council for final approval in June.
In a message to the committee and Lake Oswego residents, City Manager Scott Lazenby outlined some of the planned big-ticket items for the upcoming fiscal year, including replacing a fire engine and rescue boat, performing $200,000 in parks maintenance and replacing a generator and elevator in the library, all of which he described as in keeping with the City's "take care of what we have" philosophy.
"We continue to hold the line on staff, service and program increases, and as a result, our General Fund is in a strong financial position," Lazenby wrote. "General revenues are projected to increase by 3.8 percent. The proposed budget increases the share allocated to the major departments by the same percentage, and the departments have been able to absorb the projected increases in PERS."
A key factor in absorbing those Public Employees Retirement System costs, Lazenby said, is that the City's ongoing General Fund revenues exceed ongoing expenses by more than $2 million. He attributed the surplus to the sale of the West End Building and to modest but steady growth in property tax revenue.
If approved as proposed, in fact, the budget would maintain the City's current property tax rates of $4.9703 per $1,000 of assessed value inside the Lake Oswego School District and $4.5884 outside the district. For a home with an assessed value of $340,000 (the median in Lake Oswego, according to figures from Clackamas County), that would mean a tax bill of $1,690 inside the LOSD boundaries and $1,560 outside them.
The proposed budget continues many of the ongoing goals that the City has emphasized in recent years, including pavement restoration, bike and pedestrian connections, completing the Boones Ferry Road project and finishing out the downtown urban renewal district project list. It also includes funds for replacing turf at Hazelia Field and rebuilding the Roehr Park pathway, as well as money to add artificial turf at Waluga Park.
Also on the proposed list: $75,000 in tourism funds over the next two years for a mountain bike demonstration project and $275,000 to match Arts Council dollars for a "gateway" feature as part of the Public Art Master Plan, subject to advice from the Tourism Advisory Committee and a final decision by the City Council.
City Engineer Erica Rooney opened last week's meeting with a presentation about upcoming infrastructure projects, including Boones Ferry Road, six pathway projects and general road maintenance. The proposed budget would add an additional $3.2 million to the Street Fund over the next two years on top of the existing $2 million per year, but Rooney and Lazenby both clarified that while the City is making progress toward its goal of improving its average pavement condition index (PCI) score to 70 out of 100, that score will
need to be improved further to reach a point where roads can be maintained at the lowest cost.
"The Capital Improvement Plan will not get us to a PCI of 84, the point at which we reach the lowest annual cost in keeping our streets in good condition," Lazenby wrote.
Rooney also recommended installing traffic signals at two intersections along Jean Road — one at Bryant Road and another at Pilkington Road — which are now slated for 2018-19. The request was partly due to public feedback, she said, but the City also hired a contractor to perform a study of which intersections have the greatest need for signals and those two were at the top of the list.
"These are the top two, with lots and lots of requests over the years to put signals in," Rooney said.
Some of the discussion focused on what to do with the City Hall rehabilitation fund. The City Council began setting aside money last year — about $644,000 —for repairs to City Hall, but later opted to replace the building entirely using urban renewal funding. Councilor Jeff Gudman suggested reallocating $450,000 of the fund to LED lighting replacement and $50,000 for invasive species removal projects, both of which were later approved by the committee.
"(LEDs) are one of the few investments we can make that actually have a payback," Gudman said, adding that since the City has already replaced a significant portion of its lights, it makes sense to finish the job so the entire city receives the same treatment.
Last week's discussion also focused on the project to add artificial turf to Waluga Park, which received a significant amount of citizen comment in two previous Budget Committee meetings this year. Councilor John LaMotte had asked if the project could be done sooner than the previously scheduled construction timeframe of 2019. Deputy City Manager Jordan Wheeler said the work could not be moved up to the current year, but could be done in 2018 by reallocating funding from this year's Tourism Fund to get a jump-start on the design work. The committee approved that suggestion.
Councilor Jackie Manz also requested an additional $10,000 be added to the Municipal Grants Fund for 2018-19, bringing its total value to $35,000, with funding coming out of the council's budget. That suggestion also was approved, and
the committee unanimously approved the amended bud-
The 14-member committee then reconvened to discuss the Lake Oswego Redevelopment Agency budget, which focuses on projects in the City's two urban renewal districts in downtown and Lake Grove.
"This is one area where you'll see a difference here compared to last year," Lazenby said. That's because the council's decisions in the past year to build a new downtown police station and rebuild City Hall have resulted in a "downtown civic center" project on the renewal district docket.
The rest of the list consists of three other projects: the Wizer Block redevelopment, the North Anchor project and a project to rebuild Third and Fourth streets. With the addition of the two civic center buildings, the remaining district funding is almost entirely allocated.
"These would pretty much dominate it," Lazenby said.
The Lake Grove urban renewal district has three main projects: the two phases of the Boones Ferry Road redesign and a parking project. The projects haven't changed from last year, although City staff noted that the district is now bringing in much more revenue than what was originally projected, thanks to the addition of several new projects and buildings in the past couple years, including the Yakima Products headquarters in the former West End Building and plans to develop The Springs retirement home at the corner of Boones Ferry Road and Kruse Way.
Mayor Kent Studebaker moved to adopt the $40,886,122 LORA budget, and it was passed by a vote of 13-1, with committee member Dave Berg casting the sole no vote. The City Council and LORA board are scheduled to vote on the final adoption of both budgets at the council's June 6 meeting.