Oregon council unanimously passed the city’s operating budget at a meeting Dec. 21.
“I’m encouraged it’s a solid budget,” said Councilman Mike Sheehy.
“I think the process was good,” said Councilman Sandy Bihn. “I just wanted to alert everyone that what we’re doing is projecting our revenues for 2010. I think they’re less conservative perhaps than in the past,” she said of the $16,108,000 budget. “We’re projecting our revenues less than what we’re projecting our expenses without the capital improvement budget. So I’m just cautioning that the economy and what’s going on with the rising expenses may be hitting some kind of a balancing act with us as time goes on through 2010. Hopefully that won’t be the case, but it may be.”
Councilman Jerry Peach said the administration will be watching revenues “very closely.”
“I think that provides us with some reassurance,” said Peach.
Councilman James Seaman, who is chairman of the Finance Committee, said employee wages and contracts are set two years providing some stability to the budget.“So that’s one thing that gives us some guidance in determining this operating budget also,” he said.
Despite less revenue projected for next year, the city has millions in its “rainy day” fund to fall back on, Seaman told The Press last week.
“We’re fortunate in Oregon. We’ve been saving our money over the last few years. We’re prepared financially when there’s a recession,” said Seaman.
Still, the city, like other communities in the area, will see less property and income tax revenue for next year, he said.
“We don’t expect a reduction in staff, but we don’t expect to hire anyone, either,” he said.
The Finance Committee will soon be working on the city’s capital improvements budget for next year, which will include several projects, said Seaman.
“We have quite a few projects for 2010,” said Seaman, adding that many are already in progress. They include the following:
• Widening Wheeling Street over the I-280 bridge from two to four lanes.
• Adding a turn lane and a traffic signal at Coy and Starr;
• Reconstruction of a two mile stretch of Otter Creek Road, which serves the city’s industrial area. Seaman said a large part of the $3 million project will be funded by federal stimulus dollars. “The road is going to stay the same in terms of the number of lanes,” said Seaman. “The road was done with concrete, initially, the joints have been sinking and it’s very weak. We’re going to pulverize the concrete and pave over it.”
• Completion of the Big Ditch project on Stadium Road. The project, which has had to overcome a few hurdles in the past few years, involves enclosing parts of a ditch on Stadium Road and rerouting it to the north. The ditch has long posed a safety hazard to motorists driving down Stadium Road. Seaman said the project will also stop increased erosion of the berm and road. Right-of-way acquisition and a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers delayed the project in the last few years, but Seaman expects it to be completed next year.
• Construction of a 2 million gallon elevated water tower at the corner of Wynn and Corduroy roads. Mayor Mike Seferian said the city decided to build a second water tower to improve water pressure throughout the city. The first water tower off Navarre Avenue and Coy Road holds 1 million gallons.
“The new tower’s tank will be raised by the middle of January,” said Seferian. “It will provide water line improvements, two million gallons of reserve water and constant pressure through all the lines in the city, especially in the industrial area. It will meet the demands of any prospective business that needs a lot of water and pressure.”
Seaman expects the Finance Committee to wrap up the capital improvements budget in late January.