City Community Development fundshort of money
As revealed during a mid-year budget review meeting Thursday, March 8, Wilsonville's community development fund is operating at a deficit of about $240,000.
The community development fund — which operates independently of the general fund — has resources of approximately $3.4 million compared to approximately $3.7 million in expenses.
City staff say this deficit is due to stalled development agreements in the Coffee Creek Industrial Area, as well as staffing constraints that limit how much time they can spend on each project and the unpredictability of budgeting for community development. City staff discussed infusing the fund with general fund money to make up for the deficit.
"Capital budgeting can be very challenging," Finance Director Susan Cole said. "We run into permitting challenges; we run into working with other agencies like ODOT (Oregon Department of Transportation) and the federal government. There are a number of things that can come along that can delay a project."
"We probably tend to overestimate how much work we're going to get done in a given year but if we don't budget those projects, we can't do them," City Manager Bryan Cosgrove said.
Because agreements with Universal Health Services and SORT Bioenergy to develop land in Coffee Creek fell through, projected funds from the urban renewal district to improve Garden Acres Road have delayed the road improvements.
"Sometimes it's a matter of not having money in the bank. Coffee Creek is a prime example. Without those two developments we don't have the money in the bank," Cole said.
The City has yet to fill two vacant positions — in engineering and stormwater management — in the community development department. Cosgrove says the City likely will fill the engineering position soon, particularly because it will need such expertise for a major expansion of its drinking water capacity and related improvements to its water intake facility.
"We have some really big projects that are going to need some big eyes on them. We need someone with a pretty robust skillset with public projects," Cosgrove said.
And Cosgrove added that the community development department hasn't filled the stormwater vacancy because it hasn't had enough work to justify filling the position but could do so soon. Cosgrove also said, though hiring can prove challenging, many city employees stay for a long time.
Project costs typically increase over time and delays could cost the city money. However, Wilsonville Mayor Tim Knapp says stalled projects don't impact current services as much as delaying future growth.
To Cosgrove, the deficit is an example of Wilsonville's ambition and not a shortcoming.
"It may seem like in our world that we live in maybe we aren't doing as much, but trust me when I tell you we do a lot, especially for the small staff we have in CD (community development)," Cosgrove said.