Budget deemed 'boring,' just the way they like it
(This updates a previous print story about the city of Tualatin budget.)
By his own admission, Don Hudson, Tualatin's finance director likes a "boring" budget, meaning one with no big surprises, and that's exactly what he's getting for the upcoming fiscal year.
Already approved by the Tualatin Budget Committee, on Tuesday, the Tualatin City Council passed a $97.1 million budget.
"The mayor, a long time ago, called my reports 'boring,' which is a good thing," Hudson said during an earlier interview about the budget.
Compare that to Tigard, Tualatin's neighbor to the south, which is in the unenviable position of having to cut $2.5 million from its upcoming budget and is planning an equal amount of cuts for the following year.
"It does feel like we're in good shape," said City Manager Sherilyn Lombos.
Tualatin's new budget calls for an investment of $8.9 million for capital improvement projects tied to the city's water system and transportation projects.
One of those transportation projects is construction of the Myslony Bridge, Lombos said. The $1 million-plus construction project includes a bridge that will extend from Myslony Street, cross Hedges Creek, and hook up with 112th Avenue.
The project will make it easier for truck and other traffic to access 124th Avenue. Plans are underway by the county to open 124th Avenue from Tualatin-Sherwood Road south to Tonquin Road before too long. The goal: Commercial truck traffic will use 112th Avenue and 124th Avenue with hopes of relieving congestion along Tualatin-Sherwood Road.
At the same time, upcoming transportation projects, as well as the passage of a transportation bond in May, have resulted in the need to hire Tualatin's first full-time transportation engineer, Lombos said.
Mayor Lou Ogden said transportation and congestion continue to be the No. 1 issue on most residents' minds.
Meanwhile, a full-time code compliance/building inspector position is included in the budget to deal with issues related to construction and growth. At the same time, a seasonal parks worker is being added due to all the new trails being built through the city and more hours have been added to the city's special events coordinator (due to the increasing popularity of such events as the annual Pumpkin Regatta and the Blender Dash, the latter being a popular race for young people that has doubled in participants since its inception several years ago.)
Still, the city also is preparing for a 12.5 percent decrease in fines and forfeitures due to expected decreases in the number of traffic citations issued. That's because, although the city's police department is fully staffed at the moment, three Tualatin police officers are attending the Oregon Public Safety Academy, which takes nine months to complete, Lombos said.
Hudson said that, while the city is safe in the new fiscal year — which runs July 1 to June 30, 2019 — the following budget cycle will include increases in PERS contributions, which are expected to rise by about 5 percent.
"We've saved about $400,000, which is about a one-year (PERS) impact," said Lombos. "We have the ability to tap that."
Meanwhile, Ogden pointed out that Tualatin has one of the lowest tax rates among any city in the Portland-metropolitan area at $2.26 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. Ogden said it's not only because of sound management but also because half of the city's assessed value comes from commercial and retail properties.