During the past three years our city has seen and accomplished remarkable changes—all of this occurring while we experienced phenomenal growth, due in part, to unprecedented oil and gas activity.
Take for example, major road infrastructure investments due to extraordinary revenue growth and now a new 0.65% sales tax for road maintenance; new community assets like the Public Safety Training Center; the first Phase of the 10th Street improvements and the first three phases of 20th Street improvements; 8th Avenue improvements; two new synthetic turf athletic fields at Northridge High; a new 5 million gallon water storage facility at Gold Hill and progress on the Bellvue water transmission line. Not to mention facilitating a new hotel and conference center and preparations for Phase I of the new City Center administrative building. These are just some of the more visible projects.
An important point is that we knew the additional revenue was temporary. While we certainly added services, for example, three new police officers in the 2016 Budget, we remained true to our basic fiscally conservative principles. We used the additional revenue for one-time investments into capital assets (such as roads) that improved the community and will help create future economic growth.
Given all of that, we readied ourselves to propose the new 2017-2018 budget to the City Council. One of our first steps was to ask departments to find 0.5% reductions in their spending. These are small reductions; approximately $500,000 out of operating budgets totaling over $104 million.
Once staff completed those base budget discussions, there remained $450,000 in unobligated revenue. During the budget prep process, departments identified several challenges and from those the Council will consider these recommended expenditures: three officers for downtown safety; a community broadband survey and feasibility study; City government property management software; and Community Development software to streamline the development review process.
However, there are still many unfunded budget requests. Some of those include Police body cameras, additional parks maintenance employees, and other departmental needs. Within the next few weeks we will begin a dialogue with citizens about these and other important future needs.
And over the next two months, the Council will review the 2017-2018 Proposed Budget. The Proposed Budget provides the same high quality services residents have come to expect from our dedicated City workforce.
Roy H. Otto