Oregon’s 2012 budget is more conservative than in previous years due to less income tax revenue and state cuts in the Local Government Fund.
Councilman James Seaman, chairman of the Finance Committee, has been holding committee meetings to discuss the city’s operating budget.
The city’s income tax revenue this year is down by 3-percent when compared with the city’s benchmark year of 2008, according to Seaman.
And state cuts in the Local Government Fund will cost the city about $1 million per year, he added.
“There’s been a gradual reduction. Next year, we’ll feel the full impact of that,” said Seaman.
Even beyond next year, the city, like other communities in the state, will feel the effects of the elimination of the estate tax in January, 2013.
With low interest rates, the city can’t even get a decent return on its investments, said Seaman.
“The interest on investments has been very low compared to 2007 and 2008. We get so little return on the money that we invest. That’s made a difference in the last two to three years,” said Seaman.
With a tight budget, the city has not rushed to replace employees that have retired, he said.
“There’s cross training of existing employees to take on more responsibilities,” he said.
Spending on capital projects and streets has dropped in next year’s budget compared to previous years to save money, he said.
“Over the last 10 years, we’ve been able to spend about $1 million on street repairs every year. Because of that, we’re fairly well caught up. But now, we’re only going to be able to spend about $350,000 on street repairs because we have less money coming in,” said Seaman. “It’s not immediately having a negative impact because we had such a strong program in the years prior to this year, so we’re not in such bad shape. But the streets we replaced seven or eight years ago need repairing.
Dustin Road, a major street parallel to Navarre, would normally be reconstructed because it’s in such bad shape, said Seaman. “That street is in dire need of repair, but it’s exceptionally costly. We applied for a grant, but we were turned down, so we’re just going to have to do some maintenance work on it and apply again next year for a grant.”
Isaac Street near Dustin will be included in the grant application, he said.
“We can’t afford to repair them and give them a full pavement out of our local funds. We need to get grant money to do that. But we can maintain them and keep them usable,” he said.
Major capital projects like this year’s Wheeling Street road widening and bridge replacement project are not planned for next year, he added.
“There’s nothing big on capital improvements, no major considerations,” he said.
“We have ditch and drainage projects, but nothing glitzy,” he said.