By Scott Unger • Of the News-Register • 

Budget blues for McMinnville: Staffing and workloads emerge as major issues at city hearings

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Comments

scooter

Geez, what has happened to all of the usual commenters? CubFan, Don Dix, TTT, Lulu, Bill B. Where you guys/gals at? I mean this was the perfect opportunity to rail against all of the the misused and misappropriated tax dollars. Oh wait.... By the way thanks for showing up and giving your insights in how the city can better spend your money.

Lulu

Well, this "gal" wonders what your point is.

macgreg

i commend the men and woman to help run this great small town.There nothing eassy about budgets,set asides and the political consensus.I know several of these folks ,all outstanding

CubFan

Part 1:
Scooter- sorry to disappoint you. This article is titled “Budget blues for McMinnville: Staffing and workloads emerge as major issues at city hearings”. The city is finally showing some ownership for the budget and how funds don’t cover expenses. The last line in the story reflects what my concern has been all along. Sal Peralta stated: “I do think it’s really important that we right-size our expectations for our departments with the ability of the city to actually meet those demands.” We as taxpayers have to carefully consider our personal budgets. As everything from rent to groceries to utilities and more go up in price, we have to examine our budgets and make cuts. That’s what I expect from the city. And up until recently, their answer has seemed to be to increase fees. The $13 monthly fee on our water and light bill was to retire a $1.8 million debt. As of January 2024, the city has collected enough to retire this debt, but they haven’t stopped collecting the fee. Now they’re talking about a $10 monthly fee to cover sewer repairs. When citizens voted for the new fire district, that $1.50/M for assessed home value should have been removed from the city tax assessment. But they city intends to keep that, essentially changing that portion of our taxes from $1.50/M to $3.50/M.

CubFan

Part 2
The city is talking about floating a bond in excess of $100 million next year for the rec center/pool. If passed, this will increase our taxes too. The city is also talking about a $102 million parks plan. You can’t squeeze blood from a turnip. I feel like the city has no concept of how these fees and taxes are burdening taxpayers. It’s high time the city do the exact thing we taxpayers have been doing: “Tighten their belts”. In the News-Register article entitled “City allots $339K for rec center bond preparation”, Mayor Drabkin states: “I just think that we need to have our hands more firmly around those operational costs because the city hasn’t done that for too long and so we’ve been making investments that we can’t maintain.” FINALLY some kind acknowledgement that the city needs to control expenses! The city needs to carefully separate what would “be nice” from what is “essential”.

tagup

Cubfan- Thanks for mentioning the utility fee. Your observation is spot on. Personally, I supported the budget objective ( as if I had a choice)and I also support the upcoming wastewater project. But I will never support a utility service charge that doesn’t include a sundown stipulation when the intended project has been completed. Scooter mentioned “misappropriation of funds”…. In my mind keeping the service charge after the goal is met, meets that definition.

Bill B

Well, for me Scooter, it’s just general fatigue. Not sure anyone in authority reads these posts and if they do, do they care. I’m past the stage of attending meetings and proposing solutions. I can say, however, that anyone who has a leadership position in the real world understands you can’t have everything you want. You can’t afford it unless you raise prices and then you run the risk of losing customers. Not so, with government. Customers can’t leave (at least very easily), so it’s very easy to just increase rates. Also, there is no Board of Directors here to take a macro look at the entire operation. In the real world if you want to change direction, expand or improve profitability, decisions have to be made by looking at all departments and determining where efficiencies can be gained.
A third-party review of the entire city government would be a good place to start. McKinsey would love to come in here, I bet.

scooter

Cub my comment was based off of the countless accusations that the city doesn't use the tax payer money wisely or that there has been gross misuse of funds. I usually challenge you and the others to give concrete examples of these misuses and or suggestions of ways to trim the budget. I agree with you that if all the purposed initiatives go through our taxes will continue to go up. There is support for a new pool and rec center and I for one understand the reality of aging sewer systems. So I'm not sure if they will pass but eventually that bill will come due whether it is paid for over a period of time with thought and intention or in unplanned for, highly costly chunks due to sewer failure. Again I simply ask do you have any suggestions for mitigating the rising costs or are you for simply cutting the budgets across all departments. ie less road repair, less police presence, longer permit times, clogged sewage, crumbling city buildings? As I pointed out a while ago the new Police Union CBA is up next year. You can bet that they aren't going to give up a full and entitled pay increase to add more officers like they did last time. So if we are going to right size our budget you can expect less officers and longer response times in the very near future. Do I want to pay more in taxes? NO. Am I concerned that rising cost will continue to apply pressure on an already struggling budget? YES. Do I think our city staff, budget committee and city council are trying their best to manage this very difficult balancing act? ABSOLUTELY. I'll put an idea out there(even though I already know it won't go far) let's figure out what a sales tax would give us and lower the property taxes to adjust for the new income. That way everyone who shops here(tourists) have to pay their fair share. People complain about the "Whinos" well here's your chance to get your pound of flesh.

tagup

Scooter- You identify some critical needs with public safety & roads, yet we see a plan to add a F/T planning position for $115k (probably $150k after benefits are added.) and $65k for public media. Those don’t seem like higher priority expenses over police/ roads to me. We are considering adding new software for municipal court which might be nice, but maybe cutting down on RV abatement costs and park patrols (by setting up a place where “houseless” people can stay legally ) would reduce the court backlog and police costs. Is $339k earmarked for a Rec center that has yet to be approved a bit premature ? That sum would go a long way to offset other costs that are pressing.
Just some questions from the cheap seats…

Don Dix

So scooter, if the budget deficit was retired before the end of 2024, and the city is still collecting that '$13 fee", in what fund does that surplus (approx. $1.2M) reside? It's just a simple question that deserves a truthful answer, and not a lame, run-around-the-subject explanation/excuse.

tagup

Don, I’m not certain, but the utility service charge is likely lumped together with other city charges for service. That revenue budget had a value of $22,582,092 in the proposed 24-25 budget. Im not sure that specific line item is tracked to show a surplus/ loss. Just my guess…

Don Dix

scooter scolded some of us for not 'railing against all of the misused and misappropriated tax dollars'. Well here is a chance to explain where the surplus from a sneaky city fee is now being used - or misused.

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