DALLAS — The city of Dallas’ 2019-20 budget proposal has money for adding three new positions and completing several infrastructure projects.
The budget as introduced Monday evening sits at $59.1 million, an increase from $47.9 million in the current year. The general fund — which pays for police, fire, ambulance, parks, library, administration, finance, the Dallas Aquatic Center, municipal court, and planning — sits at $14.3 million, up from $13.4 million in the current budget.
City Manager Greg Ellis began his presentation by listing the costs that are increasing for the city.
He said Oregon Employee Retirement System costs increased 23 percent, medical insurance went up 6 percent and Workers Compensation increased 36 percent for 2019-20.
“That’s the bad news,” Ellis said. “There’s a lot of good news, too.”
Ellis said property tax collections projected for the 2018-19 budget have already been surpassed.
“We’re already at 100 percent of property tax (collection), about $5,000 over,” Ellis said. “It’s a $4.1 million budget item, so at the end of March, we are $5,000 over the $4.1 million.”
For those who pay property taxes in installments, May is the third installment, so collections should be strong that month, he said.
“I’m looking at some pretty good tax revenue this year in the general fund,” Ellis said. “A lot of that can be attributed to the robust building that’s going on.”
Higher-than-expected property tax collection isn’t the only positive development for the city’s cash flow. Ellis said the city is saving money by not replacing the fire chief and having an interim public works director.
Also, the city has struggled to fill openings. Two police officer positions have been vacant for months.
“We’re still working on a recruitment we started last fall,” said Emily Gagner, the assistant city manager and human resources director.
Ellis said that money unspent on unfilled positions will roll into next year’s budget.
“I would say, bottom line, that the city of Dallas is in really good shape financially for the 2019-20 fiscal year,” he said.
The 2019-20 budget adds 2.5 positions: a full-time employee for marketing and tourism promotion; a full-time parks employee; and a part-time position at the library.
“(Library Director) Mark (Johnson) in the last five years has increased the circulation in the library substantially,” Ellis said.
The tourism and marketing post will be paid for with a portion of the transient lodging tax money the city collects from hotels in town.
The city has a contract with the Dallas Area Visitors Center to perform that function, but Ellis has proposed bringing it in-house. Jeremy Teal, the administrative assistant in the city manager’s office, would take that post, if approved.
With Teal moving to tourism and marketing position, the city will hire a new assistant to the city manager, who will also take the city recorder duties.
Ellis said a portion of the increase in the 2019-20 budget is accounted for in infrastructure improvements slated for next year. Those include a recycled wastewater project ($8 million); improvements on Godsey Road ($3.65 million); repairs to the sewer system and street overlays near Hayter Street ($1.45 million); and street Main Street improvements in the 600 and 700 blocks downtown ($800,000, plus $300,000 in urban renewal funding).
The recycled wastewater project is paid for with a $7 million loan from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and $1 million in sewer system development charge funds. The Hayter Street project funding is a combination of Oregon Department of Transportation and city funding. Improvements on Godsey received a $1.41 million grant ODOT grant, $1 million in state gas tax revenue, with the balance paid for by the city.
The next budget committee meeting is Monday at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall, 187 SE Court St.