Pamplin Media Group – Council adopts 2022-23 budget

The budget exceeds $129.49 million for two years; the board approves a slight increase in the tax rate

There’s not much exciting about the City of Newberg’s 2022-2023 budget.

The document, approved by City Council at its June 6 meeting, will serve as the city’s fiscal framework for the next two years and, under state law, was to be passed in early summer of public manner.

The budget committee, made up of all six council members and an equal number of citizen volunteers, began the process of reviewing the proposed budget with training sessions in early April, according to chief financial officer Kady Strode. The group then held three public meetings over the next four weeks to discuss the budget proposal Strode drafted in concert with acting City Manager Will Worthey. The committee approved the budget on May 18 and forwarded it to the board for final approval.

The document, although apparently complicated at first sight, is simple. It totals a tick less than $129,497,000, will pay the bills for a biennium and fund the employment of 144.79 full-time equivalent employees.

“We consider this to be a status quo budget,” Strode said. “We factor in typical increases in COLA (cost of living), retirement costs, health insurance, and inflationary factors for multiple materials and service items. In addition, the city is taking a more proactive approach to internal capital improvements across the city, such as our computer software and HVAC upgrades, which have been neglected for years.”

The impact of the new budget on homeowners is $2.81 per $1,000 of assessed value, meaning that an owner of a home or business with an assessed value of $300,000 will pay $843 for municipal taxes, an increase of $24 over the last biennium.

“By charter, the city is authorized to increase property taxes by 3% each year until we reach our permanent rate of $4.3827 per $1,000,” Strode said. “The approved rate of $2.8139 per $1,000 represents a 3% increase over the prior year rate. As labor and inflation costs increase more than in the past , this is a source of revenue that the city needs.”

The biggest account in the document is the public safety budget at $8.6 million. It includes the police department.

“The Public Safety budget remained status quo like all other departments,” Strode said. “Their budget includes the negotiated COLA from bargaining, pension increases, health insurance increases, and standstill hardware and services expenses, except for a few items related to software increases and worn cameras. on the body. The department maintains the same authorized personnel strength and has recently hired officers to fill in the gaps left unfilled during the Covid era.”

In the new budget, the city’s capital projects fund exceeds $17.39 million. The city has plans for that money.

“We will begin the process of building a new groundwater treatment plant, which will span several fiscal years (and) includes the recent purchase of redundant water rights,” Strode said, referring to the recent purchase by the city of water rights formerly held by WestRock. , former owner of the paper mill. “We will complete the Elliot Road improvements, which will include improvements such as the addition of a bike path and sidewalks in this neighborhood. We will also begin the Riverfront Sewer Lift Station, which will open up the riverfront area for development. later and take two old, inefficient pumping stations offline.”

Like towns in the state, Newberg has struggled to maintain the maintenance of its streets.

“The street fund has struggled for the past two years due to reduced gas tax revenue and is also expected to continue to decline for the foreseeable future. …” Strode said. “Newberg is working on ways to keep this fund in the black and is looking at other ways for the city to generate revenue, which could help sustain this fund in the future.”

Although he must fund services with dwindling tax revenue while serving more customers, Strode said the city is on the right track while acknowledging that challenges are on the horizon.

“The city’s overall financial health is good, with a healthy balance in many funds,” she said. “However, there are many future expenses that the city is preserving these fund balances for, such as continuing to increase pension costs, funding the groundwater treatment plant, and funding the bypass through the phase. III, to name a few.”

The advent of the worst global pandemic in over a century has not helped.

“Like many other municipalities, the city has been hit hard during the pandemic and the general fund balance has been hit by about $1 million,” Strode said. “However, the city was able to replenish this fund balance through prudent spending and the suspension of hiring for certain positions. The CARES Act and the FEMA dollars the city received also helped to increase the fund balance. to offset purchases related to COVID-19.”

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