The city of Oregon will have a less than expected carry over balance in its budget this year due to fewer payroll tax collections.
The city had expected to add $3 million to its $5 million reserve by the end of the year, but the recession has reduced that amount to $1.5 million, according to Mayor Mike Seferian.
Some of that money is being used to pay down the bills, he said.
“Our projected spending is higher than the revenue we are bringing in this year. We are about $1.7 million shy in revenue,” said Seferian.
The city is getting fewer dollars from the state, which could dry up soon, he added.
“We believe in the next couple of years, we could be getting zero from the state. We don’t know what 2011 will bring us, so we’re already trying to find a lot of ways to keep ourselves from dissolving all of our reserves and from ending up in the same shape as some of our surrounding communities,” he said.
Seferian said the city is not filling certain positions to save money.
Police Officer Jeff Brown, who the city let go earlier this year, has not been replaced, he said. And a full-time position in the Finance Department is now part-time.
Streamlining the tax department is also a possibility, he said.
“We don’t want to eliminate or lay off employees, but keep the people we have and move them into different positions,” said Seferian. “If an employee retires, and it’s an important and needed position, then we can try and move our employees around to cover those needs, and have one less person employed. In the water billing department, we went to different type of water meters and billing, which made the work load much less, so we actually have more people in the department than we really need. We are going to try and move some of those people around, also.”
Less manpower in the building inspection department, due to a reduction in economic development, is also an option, said Seferian.
“Sometimes our inspectors don’t have a lot to do, or jobs to inspect, if there’s not a lot of people building new buildings. We may be looking at qualifying those employees. In snow emergencies, we may possibly use those people in snow plows and other positions in the streets department,” said Seferian.
“We are going to try and make the city a little more efficient, still keep all our services, but until we see what our revenue sources are going to turn up, we are not going to allow ourselves to fall into a deficit situation,” said Seferian. “Even if we were to keep everything the way it is now, in two to three years, all our reserves would be gone. And then we’d be in a panic mode. We’d have to lay off, make cuts – do something relatively substantial. We are going to work very hard at seeing to it that we are not in that situation.”