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The actual budget will look nothing like proposed budget, city manager says

This story was updated from its original version

When city of Wilsonville officials crafted the budget for the upcoming fiscal year throughout early-to-mid winter, they planned the fiscal document under essentially normal circumstances.

This story was updated from its original version

The city is presenting that same budget to the Wilsonville Budget Committee Wednesday night, but City Manager Bryan Cosgrove said the proposal will starkly contrast with what the city government will end up appropriating in 2020-2021. This is because the COVID-19 pandemic could send revenues spiraling and has created ample uncertainty around the planning process.

"The budget that is out in circulation has no resemblance to what the actual budget will look like at the end of the next fiscal year," Cosgrove said. "What it's going to look like, the actual budget, I don't know."

The budget proposes that the city spend $216 million, up from $212 million in 2019-20.

Cosgrove plans to put forward a number of caveats and a request to reduce the budget by $2.1 million for the budget committee to consider and to convene Wilsonville City Council when the time comes to talk about potential budget adjustments at some point. And Cosgrove said each government department has plans in place if revenues fall, as expected, and that these conversations about potential cuts will take place on a weekly or monthly basis.

"What we will be doing is we have scenarios for every department based on their revenue sources," he said. "If we have to make cuts, we have plans vetted and we will take that to council at the appropriate time."

However, Cosgrove said the city would move forward with many of the capital improvement projects listed in the initial budget, such as a $5 million project to upgrade the Willamette River Water Treatment Plant, while discretionary projects like equipment upgrades for parks could be nixed. Overall, capital improvement activity will decline from previous years, Cosgrove said.

"What I'm going to tell the budget committee (is) looking back to the Great Recession, we had a lot of plans on the shelf when stimulus money came available to get matching grants from the federal government," Cosgrove said. "Conventional wisdom says there's going to be stimulus for infrastructure. We want to be in position to take advantage of federal dollars."

As for individual departments, the transit department might be especially susceptible to cuts because revenue is derived from payroll taxes, but Cosgrove said that stimulus money and funding from a recent state transportation package could keep it afloat. The community development and building departments could also see impacts because their revenues are related to development activity.

The city has already implemented a hiring freeze and cut expenditures on things like travel and training. These cuts aren't reflected in the proposed budget, Cosgrove said.

The first budget committee meeting is slated to take place 6 p.m. Wednesday and is available for public viewing and comment. For more information, visit

"The global Covid-19 pandemic has thrust us into an unprecedented, dangerous, disruptive, and economically painful reality," the proposed budget document reads. "At this moment, while experts predict the pandemic will eventually pass, it is hard to imagine something with more devastating ramifications for government leaders everywhere."

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