A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Budget message: You can check it out

Written May 8th, 2019 by Hasso Hering

Firefighters’ union members in yellow shirts stand in back as Manager Peter Troedsson, at the podium, reads his budget message Tuesday.

Budget meetings aren’t anybody’s idea of a good time. But Tuesday’s session in the Albany council chamber was interesting, mainly for the long and extraordinarily detailed message delivered by City Manager Peter Troedsson.

It’s worth listening to in its entirety, and you can do so. The YouTube video is available on the city’s website. For nearly an hour and a half, Troedsson described Albany’s varied municipal programs and the money angles they involve. The common theme: There’s a structural problem that can’t be solved by any one-time infusion of cash, such as from grants or selling city property.

The problem is that payroll expenses, including the public pension system and health insurance, are growing faster than property tax income and other revenue, and the only way to solve the problem for the long run is to reduce staffing — and thus service to the public — or raise taxes and fees.

The budget proposed for 2019-21 — the first plan covering a biennium rather than just one year — envisions reductions in the number of employees in the police and fire departments as well as parks and recreation and the libraries.

In parks, the cutbacks would close the the Maple Lawn preschool, and several parents told the budget committee Tuesday why that would be a mistake. Troedsson said the city is contacting other entities about possibly taking over the preschool program.

Council member Bessie Johnson spoke up at the end, urging the budget committee to not just sit there but to come up with alternatives to the various cutbacks. For instance, she had asked for and received information on what it costs to run the Carnegie library downtown.  (It’s about $210,000 a year.) And she wonders why the city needs two libraries.

She also had asked for a list and map of city-owned real estate. The list is long, but on the map it appears all the big properties are parks or designated open space. They include the East Thornton Lake Natural Area, which the city bought for more than $2 million but can’t develop, let alone maintain, because of cutbacks in the already short-staffed parks department.

The budget committee is going to decide whether to endorse the $345 million two-year budget as presented or to make changes. There are three more budget sessions planned. The next one is at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at City Hall. (hh)

8 responses to “Budget message: You can check it out”

  1. J. Jacobson says:

    Wait! Am I wrong. Haven’t our Dear Leaders told us that America is experiencing an unprecedented economic boom? If one accepts Troedsson’s accounting, and there’s little reason to doubt his word, then the two solutions presented are the only possible outcomes.
    PERS expenses are are out of the City’s bailiwick. Consequently, the only throttle-control is through control of the number of employees who fall into the PERS embrace.

    Until the electorate feels the pain, through reduced police, fire, streets, etcetera, the knee jerk response is always “fire those City employees.”
    But service reductions don’t affect PERS cuz that’s taking place at a much higher slot on the food chain than simple City politicos.

  2. Delfina says:

    We need 3 libraries. We need a library and a pool in No. Albany. It is not fair to have all of the services in town. The State wants more housing and No. Albany is growing despite objections. Services should be built in No. Albany.

    • Peg says:

      We need NO MORE ANYTHING in N. Albany! If you want the “city services” MOVE TO TOWN!

      • Albany YIMBY says:

        I’m still flabbergasted that the city allowed North Albany to exist. A rural outskirt turned into suburban aspirational community, bottlenecked by a gridlocked bridge. What could go wrong?

        Where is the personal responsibility? If you bought a house in North Albany you knew that it is far from the main city services across the bridge.

        • Rich Kellum says:

          North Albany existed as rural Benton County way before it became part of the City.

        • hj.anony1 says:

          Ha Ha YIMBY, when the bridges fall …we always have corvalley! No? Your comment is very funny! You can kiss it.

          I sorta like my spot. :)

          Delfina, you’re right. Based upon the number of book boxes around. Jeez, I can count 5 on my daily walks. A library is needed! And a round a bout.

          • Albany YIMBY says:

            If you like your spot, good for you. but if you chose to live in a rural place, poorly communicated with the rest of the city, now don’t ask for the rest of us to pay for services to come to you. Suburban communities cost to the cities more money than what they get out of property taxes.

            “New suburbs on the urban fringe with extensive new commercial development and relatively affluent homes will have high quality public services with a relatively low tax rate. The central city and older suburbs, with declining commercial centers and lower-income families, will be forced to impose higher tax rates and deliver poorer quality services. This disparity tends to snowball and engender a cycle of sprawl as more middle-income families flee to the suburban fringe.” https://ilsr.org/rule/tax-base-sharing/

            Denver’s Urban Neighborhoods Subsidize Its Suburban Ones https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2019/1/24/denvers-urban-neighborhoods-subsidize-its-suburban-ones


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