Wilsonville's budget set to increase due to staffing uptick, capital projects
After increasing by about 8% the previous year, the city of Wilsonville's budget will spike by roughly 5% this year according to the proposed budget presented to the Wilsonville Budget Committee during meetings May 18-19.
At the second meeting, the committee recommended that the Wilsonville City Council approve the $285.1 million budget.
The city's expenditure when it comes to capital projects ($81 million) will be higher in the next fiscal year, which starts in July, than most — if not all — previous years.
"(This is) one of the largest capital improvement programs we've had in a very long time, probably ever," Finance Director Keith Katko said at the May 18 meeting.
The bulk of that money will go toward projects to increase the Willamette River Water Treatment Plant's capacity from 15 million gallons per day to 20 million gallons per day ($25.3 million), build the new Public Works Department complex ($15.9 million) and the development of the Boeckman "dip" Bridge ($20 million).
The city wants to increase capacity at the water treatment plant to account for its increasing population and overall activity. The new Public Works Department complex is intended to allow the department more room to breathe, as it currently shares a building with police, and the Boeckman bridge would provide safer passage along a stretch that currently includes a steep hill.
The city only issues long-term debt to pay for capital improvement projects, and its existing debt includes $22 million for the 2011 expansion of its wastewater treatment plant, $7 million for water treatment plant expansion and $16.5 million for the public works project.
Further, the city's budget for personnel services and materials increased by 8.9% and 7.6% respectively. The budget proposes increasing overall staffing by 7.25 full-time employees to bring aboard an IT manager, an HR assistant, a facility maintenance specialist and an arts and culture coordinator, among other new positions.
The city is set to receive $20.1 million from other governments, including $8.6 million from Sherwood, to pay for the water treatment plant project, and an additional $2.7 million from the American Rescue Plan Act. The city is also projected to collect 7% more in property taxes ($9.1 million) than 2021-22.
Another notable item is that the city's Community Development fund is slated to operate with a deficit of roughly $954,000 — which it will pay for via the fund's overall balance that is projected to end the next fiscal year at $1.6 million. Community Development Director Chris Neamtzu said his department is as busy as it's ever been due to development activity.
The city attributed that deficit to the reduction or elimination of administrative fees in two of its urban renewal districts — which collect taxes associated with increases in property values and use the money for public improvement projects — because they're winding down. The city expects to see revenue climb back up once those two districts close.
"The City should recoup approximately $811,000 from the Year 2000 Plan (on the east side of town) and over $1M from the Westside Plan closures (based on a FY 2020-21 analysis). That money will flow into the City's General Fund by way of property tax and consideration at that point may be given to increase the General Fund subsidy to this fund," the budget read.
On the other hand, the building inspection fund increased by 36% due to an influx of development in town. The city had struggled to keep this fund in the black in the past, but the fund has stabilized since it increased rates.
"The fund is doing well, and development remains vibrant in the City," the budget stated.
Staffing shortages addressed
Also, during the May 19 meeting, Police Chief Rob Wurpes said the department is dealing with an ongoing shortage of officers, though he didn't specify the exact shortfall.
"I simply don't have human bodies to fill set positions," he said.
The city's budget accounts for 12 patrol officers — including a new behavioral health technician that the department hasn't hired yet — and a code compliance officer. The budget for the department — which could fluctuate depending on how many officers it can hire — is slated to increase by 6%, reaching close to $6 million.
Councilor Ben West said he has heard from some community members who want more police presence in town and added that having a robust police force was a priority for him.
Wurpes noted that Clackamas County — which the city contracts with for policing services — has a recruitment team and he plans to conduct his own grassroots efforts to find more officers.
"It's a flexible contract (with the county). You don't pay for what you don't get," Wurpes clarified regarding staffing.
During the May 18 budget meeting, member Shawn O'Neil asked about whether the legal department needed extra staffing considering its workload. That department currently includes a city attorney, an assistant city attorney and a legal clerk. City Manager Bryan Cosgrove said that adding legal staff was not prioritized over other departments, like HR, but that the city is hiring outside legal expertise to help out with issues related to the ongoing Aurora Airport Master Plan litigation process.
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