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Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the city of Estacada's proposed budget does not include utility fee increases

COURTESY PHOTO: CITY OF ESTACADA - The proposed budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year in Estacada includes funding for the final phase of Wade Creek Park.

The $16 million budget Estacada City Councilors will soon consider represents a 19% increase from the previous fiscal year's amount, largely because of funding for the third phase of Wade Creek Park.

Members of the Estacada Budget Committee approved the document for the 2020-21 fiscal year onTuesday, May 12. The City Council will hold a budget hearing on June 8 and consider the budget for adoption on June 22.

The proposed budget of $16,489,490 does not include any increases in utility fees because of the effect the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the community.

"Since the last two budgets did not reflect rate increases for the utility funds, this budget was predicted to account for an increase," City Manager Denise Carey wrote in a statement about the budget. "But with the fact that so many people are out of work and many businesses struggling, we did not feel this was the time to be raising rates."

Carey further noted that an increase in commercial and residential developments has led to strong revenue growth for the past several years, but the COVID-19 pandemic makes it difficult to determine if that will continue.

"Based on the market conditions before March, 2020, we had expected that trend to continue in (fiscal year) 2020-21," she wrote. "(But) the current economy is unstable and cannot be predicted at this time. . .Staff is cautiously allowing for some growth to continue but not at the rate of the last two fiscal years."

Because of this uncertainty, the predicted number of building permit fees have been reduced, and city leaders are not expecting as much revenue from new developments because of the effects of the pandemic.

Estacada's 2020-21 budget includes $4,756,408 for projects, including $2,625,000 for the final phase of Wade Creek Park, which will feature boardwalks, overlooks, a new outlet for Wade Creek and an amphitheater with community rooms. Funding for the project, which is expected to be completed in October 2021, will come from grants, donations and system development charges.

Additional projects outlined in the budget include improvements to Shafford Street, updates to the intersection of Sixth Avenue and Main Street, a sewer main extension for the northern area of the city's urban growth boundary, an update to the Wastewater Master Plan, amenities at the neighborhood park in the Regan Hills Acres 3 subdivision, new landscaping at the library parking lot and improvements to the parking lot across from the fire district buildings.

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