City will look at $400,000 in budget cuts instead of $2.5 million, city manager tells Budget Committee

TIMES PHOTO: RAY PITZ - A readboard outside Tigard City Hall Tuesday night thanks Mayor John Cook for his service.
The Tigard City Council bade farewell to a long-time council member and a mayor Tuesday while laying the groundwork for an upcoming budget that doesn't look as bad as originally predicted.

The council thanked Marc Woodard for his eight years on the council. Among other achievements, he advocated for a Downtown Tigard Urban Renewal District and supported creation of a Tigard Enterprise Zone for economic development as well as push for a Homelessness Task Force.

Woodard said he was pleased to serve the city.

"I would just like to say it's been an honor and privilege serving here for the last eight years," he said.

In praising Mayor John Cook, Mayor-elect Jason Snider said Cook had been both a leader and a great friend. Among the mayor's accomplishments was securing $2.1 million in federal funding, along with a $1.5 million grant and money from Metro and private developers, to help create the Hunziker Industrial Core project, a project expected to create as many as 600 jobs and generate $140 million in economic output once it's up and running.

Cook also was praised by three area mayors — Mayor Steve Callaway of Hillsboro, Mayor Pete Truax of Forest Grove and Mayor Lou Ogden of Tualatin — for his tenure. Both Truax and Callaway presented Cook with a flag that once flew over the U.S. Capitol, complements of U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici.

TIMES PHOTO: RAY PITZ - Forest Grove Mayor Pete Truax, left, and Hillsboro Mayor Steve Callaway present Tigard Mayor John Cook with a flag that once flew over the U.S. Capitol.

Budget news

Meanwhile, the city laid the groundwork on how it would handle the upcoming 2019-20 Tigard Budget Committee process, announcing that the cuts aren't expected to be as extreme as predicted earlier this year.

Preparing to head into its second year of reductions, City Manager Marty Wine said that, while the city was initially preparing to cut as much as $2.5 million in the upcoming budget, leaders now are looking at only $400,000 in cuts.

In the current 2018 fiscal year, the city made $2.5 million in cuts, which included cutting four positions from the Tigard Police Department as well as library materials, along with cuts in recreation and social service grants and other grants, Wine said.

"Now going into 2019, the $2.5 million of second year cuts is reduced to $400,000 for a couple of reasons. First, the departments have been underspending and holding vacant positions, up to 10 percent of budget (over $1 million in savings)," Wine wrote in a follow-up email. "Also, we are receiving some revenues that were set up in prior years, such as marijuana tax and transient lodging tax."

The reductions in part will come in two areas.

First is the elimination of Tigard Peer Court, in which juveniles could opt to attend in certain circumstances instead of going through the county juvenile system. While the Tigard Budget Committee agreed to maintain Peer Court in the current fiscal year, the court staff position became vacant and the city has agreed to cease the program.

Meanwhile, Wine said an internal cost plan will change how central service costs for Tigard Parks and Recreation are allocated. Specifically, that means removing utility billing from allocation to the parks utility fund.

Still, Wine said Tuesday night that another local option levy, possibly in May 2020, is likely. A levy that would have helped out police, library and parks maintenance operations was turned down by voters last May.

At the same time, Wine emphasized that, while some in the community believe Tigard is in trouble financially, that simply is not true.

She explained later that the city is "still resource constrained and challenged to provide the services our community wants."

Meanwhile, Finance Director Toby LaFrance told the council that each of the city's seven main departments had been asked to submit $100,000 in general fund cuts for the upcoming budget. After a short discussion by members of the Budget Committee, they agreed to hold a long budget meeting on Saturday, May 18, followed by a shorter meeting on May 23 to finalize the budget.

In addition, Liz Newton, a member of the Budget Committee who also is an incoming City Council member, said she would like to poll the public to find out what city services they feel are most important.

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