Budget likely headed to a council vote
Newberg's proposed $113 million budget has likely moved on to a vote by the Newberg City Council as the city's budget committee was slated to hold its final discussion Tuesday night after press deadline.
City Finance Director Matt Zook said the budget has largely remained unchanged since it was released, with a few minor cuts. He added that the committee did unanimously call for removing a proposed $3 monthly increase to the public safety fee as well as removing funding to pay a lobbyist to campaign on the city's behalf for the empty WestRock Mill property.
"The changes they made don't impact the $113 million very much," Zook said.
Mayor Rick Rogers said Tuesday will likely be the last deliberation for the budget committee.
"I'll give the group credit, they've gone through every page and have opinions," he said.
The budget, at nearly $113.9 million, is a $17 million increase over the current operating budget. The city used an estimate of 4.3 percent growth in assessed value to prepare the new budget, which represents a maximum 3 percent increase in assessed value, plus an estimate growth rate of 1.3 percent, allowed under state law.
It's an increase of more than 18 percent. Total appropriations are slated at nearly $102.6 million.
City Councilor Patrick Johnson, who is on the budget committee with his fellow councilors, said the "800 pound gorilla in the room" is the structural deficit. The budget calls for $1.27 million to be committed from reserves, leaving a general fund balance of $2.7 million.
"I've been impressed with everyone on the committee and all the discussion," Johnson said. "We can disagree on how to approach things. But I always think I'm learning something from the committee or hearing something I haven't heard before."
Johnson added he doesn't want to create a budget that the next city manager (current manager Joe Hannan will retire in the fall) will have to address immediately. He praised a budget that didn't add positions the next city manager would have to eliminate to make the budget work.
"I would hate for a new person to come in and be told they have to cut $1 million from this," he said.
The new budget adds 7.5 cents per $1,000 of assessed value to the existing rate of $2.50, a 3 percent increase.
Johnson said the jump doesn't concern him too much as a lot of it had to do with capital improvement projects.
"Our focus on the committee is on the general fund and we're doing everything we can as a committee to find efficiencies," he said.
Zook said he was hopeful the committee would approve the budget proposal at its meeting Monday, at which point it would move on to the council for a possible approval on June 3.