City expects to spend $6.2 million over the next year, largely for planning contracts

It's not every day that a city of West Linn's size gets to add $20 million to its budget.

The West Linn City Council did just that Monday, June 25, as it voted unanimously to approve a 2018-19 supplemental budget that accounted for the $20 million in general obligation (GO) bond project funding that was approved by voters May 15. In tandem with that vote, the council also approved a resolution authorizing the City to "issue" the bond.

When cities issue general obligation bonds, they are essentially taking out a loan that will be repaid — with interest — using funds generated from property taxes. Unlike past bonds, when the City split funding over multiple issuances, the 2018 bond funds will be acquired in a single package of $20 million.

The ballot measure approved in May called for the renewal of an existing bond levy of $.42 cents per $1,000 in assessed property value that had been in place since 1998. It was estimated to generate as much as $20 million over the course of about 21 years, which the officials said would be used to fund an array of capital improvement projects related to transportation, parks and city facilities.

As detailed in the approved supplemental budget, $13,488,000 will be put in a contingency fund for use in future years while $6,200,000 is added to the 2018-19 budget.

"This appropriation reflects that many of the projects to be funded will be in the design phase this year," Finance Director Lauren Breithaupt said in a memo to the City Council.

By law, the City must spend 85 percent of the bond proceeds within the first three years.

The council has yet to finalize funding levels for bond projects, but a draft list of initiatives for fiscal year 2019 — which ends in July 2019 — includes library improvements ($740,000), renovations at Robinwood Station ($775,000), Highway 43 planning and construction ($1,350,000) and athletic field renovations ($400,000).

The largest portion of bond funds is projected to be spent in fiscal year 2020.

The council held a public hearing before voting on the resolutions, but there was no testimony. Further discussion about the project list is expected to take place during a July 23 work session.

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