COVID-19 not expected to affect Tigard's budget
The COVID-19 pandemic isn't expected to affect Tigard's recently passed 2020-21 fiscal budget, according to Tigard's city manager.
The city is looking at a proposed budget of $138.8 million, an increase of $44.4 million, or 32 % over the previous year's budget.
Going into this year's budget cycle, City Manager Marty Wine asked Tigard's financial forecasting team, made up of the city's various department personnel, whether the pandemic would have any effect on their funds.
"And the answer came back 'not yet,'" said Wine. "We're not a city that's reliant on transient lodging tax. We're not a city that's reliant on temporary employees for tourism or an event center."
Wine did say, however, that the city had been getting ready to hire seasonal parks workers, as well as two recreation workers and some library personnel, when the pandemic hit. Those plans are on hold. Some other employees have been temporarily laid off.
"But we're now at the point where things are growing in the parks, and we're going to be putting on a couple summer camps," Wine said.
However, she noted that possibly in the next quarter, the city could see impacts to the city based on expected lower revenues from the state gas tax, which provides major funding for road construction in counties and cities throughout the state.
In her budget message, prepared before the passage of the May levy, Wine wrote that the city was also implementing performance audit recommendations for both police services and integrating technology.
The levy will pay for eight new patrol officer positions, as well as adding a school resource officer and providing advanced training for crisis de-escalation.
Wine said while there have been hundreds of inquiries relating to police practices in light of recent protests throughout the country, there aren't any budget changes currently proposed to police services. Still, Wine said "a thoughtful community conversation needs to take place to figure out what changes could be warranted in Tigard."
Meanwhile, the council has allocated funds for replacing the city's asset management and financial system, part of a multi-year program.
"We've got a bunch of systems that need to be replaced," said Wine.
The budget message also mentions the city is in the conceptual design stage for the future use of property owned by the city, something known as a "all-in-one-plus" concept that was discussed by the Tigard City Council in February.
"The idea is that we'd consolidate all the city functions into one facility, and the 'plus' part of it is we need to relocate public works from the site they're on right now," said Wine. "This budget does invest in the next steps in our facility needs."
Earlier this year, the council looked at a proposal to tear down the current Tigard Public Works building on Southwest Burnham Street, replacing it with a five-story building for city services, including the police department. That proposal calls for building an adjacent parking structure.
Wine said the city would likely have to return to voters to ask for funding to make those new facility requests happen.
The city has talked about balancing retiring debt on existing projects instead of increasing tax rates for that city service replacement.
Since the council is aware that residents and business would need relief regarding utility rates during COVID-19 — initial plans were to make increases this week — the council has delayed implementing those increases as well as system development fee increases until at least the end of the year.
"The idea there is our households and our businesses are hurting, and we want to make sure we're not adding to the economic shock we're all facing," said Wine.
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