Tualatin general fund budget increases slightly, bond sales net $2 million
The City of Tualatin will see a slight increase in its general fund budget in the upcoming fiscal year, going from $32.8 million to a proposed 2019-20 budget of $36.1 million.
But as has been the case in the last several years, the city will be looking at a status quo budget, according to city officials.
At the first official budget committee meeting of the year held Monday, May 6, City Manager Sherilyn Lombos said over the last year the city had been good stewards with taxpayer dollars, pointing out that the three big themes had been kicking off Tualatin Moving Forward (the traffic safety bond passed by voters) along with planning for the future and a push for more community engagement.
"As soon as that bond passed, we hit the ground running," Lombos said of kicking off work on the traffic projects.
Passage of the bond also was the theme echoed by Don Hudson, the city's finance director and assistant city manager.
Hudson said the city had a high Aa1 rating from Moody's when it went to sell the $20 million in traffic safety bonds in August; the higher the rating, the more actual dollars generated by the bonds. In this case, the city's rate is so strong that those bonds sold for $22 million.
The city is moving forward with several projects in that traffic bond, including the addition of a third eastbound lane planned for Tualatin-Sherwood Road as it heads to Interstate 5, he pointed out.
As previously discussed, the Public Employees Retirement System is the "elephant in the room," said Hudson, with an expected increase of 4.5% in the contribution rate.
Hudson said that, while the Tualatin Community Services Department — which oversees parks and recreation activities — will see a 2.6% decrease in the upcoming fiscal year, the city is "not reducing any services or programs." Rather, it is paying back system development charge credits to developers who paid for construction of a portion of a city greenway trail.
At the same time, Hudson said the city will begin moving forward with its plan to bring more departments in the same location as part of a Tualatin Service Center project set adjacent to the Tualatin Public Works Department on Herman Road.
Meanwhile, the city plans on using a large portion of its local tourism tax on marketing several projects. Those include creating a digital photography library as well as contracting with the Tualatin Chamber of Commerce to create a Tonquin Trail Ice Age video and an all-inclusive activities guide focusing on annual events throughout the city.
Money from a tourism tax also will be used to add Friday night activities to the annual West Coast Pumpkin Regatta held at the Lake at Tualatin Commons on a Saturday each fall. Among those activities will be the popular pumpkin weigh-off.
Also, as part of capital improvements, the city is planning to conduct a feasibility study that would look at the possibility of transforming an old barn at Brown's Ferry Park into an events center.
The next budget hearing is set for Monday, May 20, with an adoption by the City Council planned for June 24.