The Lake Oswego Budget Committee met last week to finish deliberations and approve the city's $392 million "hold-the-line" budget for the 2020-2021 biennium, which included $35,000 in municipal grants for community organizations.
The committee wrapped up its discussion of the budget on Thursday, May 9, where they were able to carve out an extra $350,000 for pathways and safe routes to school.
After hearing a presentation from City Engineer Erica Rooney on the Capital Improvement Plan for fiscal years 2020-2025 and how those projects, particularly around street improvements, are prioritized, the committee deliberated and directed City Manager Scott Lazenby to add a $350,000 line item to pathways. Lazenby and Rooney will work together on a recommendation of how that would be best spent over the next biennium, which could likely match a list of prioritized pathway projects recommended by the Parks & Natural Resources Advisory Board.
The crusade for pathways was the brainchild of City Councilor Jackie Manz, who, back in November, made pathways and safe routes to school a large part of her platform for reelection.
Overall, Manz said, she feels the budget deliberations went well this year. She felt it imperative to speak up for pathways during the committee's "put-and-take" session at a previous meeting and stood her ground again May 9.
"This go around went well. I understand and support the need to put money toward roads, however, on the other hand, I do hear a lot of citizens across all demographics say that pathways are a fabulous way to get exercise," Manz said. "There's no cost to walk on a pathway. I felt it was important to make the case for pathways, and I do feel very passionate about everyone having access to the outdoors and recreational activities."
On safe routes to school, Manz believes ensuring that children are safe as they walk to school is a fundamental issue that the City and council need to work hard to craft policy on.
Rooney pointed out that working with the Lake Oswego School District on prioritizing path projects has been a struggle to date because the school district just doesn't have the resources to focus on the issue.
"We need to better coordinate (with the school district) to leverage pathway funds for safe routes," Manz said. "The first thing I'd do is to have our staffs get together and figure out a direction we should go."
During the meeting, Councilor John Wendland suggested potentially working with the parent- teacher organizations of each school to find out what pathway projects might be best suited for funding under the banner of safe routes to school considering the parents are often the ones with boots on the ground, seeing these problems and safety concerns as they arise.
"In order to come up with an idea of what we want to do on pathways moving forward, we are going to have to be strategic," she said.
Municipal Grant requests funded:
— Beeline Foundation, family assistance and partnerships with schools, $3,500
— Clackamas Women's Services, emergency shelter, $10,000
— Family Promise of Tualatin Valley, temporary housing solutions, $3,000
— Fly Me To the Moon/Oregon Music Hall of Fame, brings live music to underserved communities of seniors, $2,000
— Hunger Fighters Oregon, local food pantry, $5,000
— Lakewood Center for the Arts, arts education, $3,000
— LOSD Special Services Parent Advisory Committee, serves students with special needs, $1,750
— Tools for Troops, refurbishes tools for U.S. armed forces veterans, $1, 750
— West Linn-Lake Oswego Village, provides support for people aging in place, $1,000