HERE'S LOOK AT CHANGES IN CITY BUDGET OVER TIME
We thought it might be interesting to provide some of the numbers that appear in the proposed budget for the City of La Grande. We want to compliment the city on its clear and concise document that it provides to the budget committee. The document has numerous pages in it; many of them deal with grants and funds that hold dollars for future or proposed projects.
WE ARE NOT drawing any conclusions about the numbers that are presented or how the money is being spent. What we felt the community might find interesting is a snapshot of some of the proposed expenses and how they have changed over the past few years. When you are done digesting the information, we would encourage you to contact any of the city councilors or Mayor Colleen Johnson if you would like to see the complete budget document or would like more of an explanation.
Here are some of the numbers from the budget:
Full-time medical % of increase
Department Employees Benefit Costs Salaries Since 2000
Council/Mgr................. 10 $21,612 $164,307 13.98%
Finance/Mun. Court .. 5 $36,019 $202,790 22.91%
Police........................... 34 $244,926 $1,303,195 12.58%
Fire/EMS.......................18 $129,667 $824,858 39.49%
Comm. Develop. ........7 $52,227 $283,806 22.97%
Personal/Recreat. ......6.6 $40,126 $254,922 13.29%
Library........................... 5.4 $36,019 $177,697 28%
Personal Services...... 30 $223,316 $1,120,555 35.84%
It should be noted that the Fire/EMS budget percentage increase includes the decision by the city council to take over operation of the ambulance services from the hospital.
ANOTHER INTERESTING fact that was gleaned from the city budget was that actual revenues for operations in 1998 were $5,060,447 compared to $5,950,000 for 2002. That means that revenues rose 17.5 percent during that period. Actual expenses in 1998 were $4,299,410 compared to $6,230,000 in 2002, a 44.9 percent increase.
Franchise fees, or taxes as they should be rightfully called, were $667,905 in 2000. The proposed franchise taxes for 2003 are $793,000 or an increase of 18.72 percent.
WHAT WE FOUND was a clear disparity in costs for medical benefits compared to the average cost of department employees. Why? You would have to ask a city councilor to explain it. The rest of the numbers are for you to consider and discuss as you wish. We thought city residents might like to know how their tax dollars are being spent.
According to the budget, 70 percent of running the city each year is in employee expense. That appears to be a little lower than what school districts usually quote for that expense.
Taxpayers should develop a greater interest in where their tax dollars are being spent. They can request budget documents from the city. They can question the city council and the mayor about taxes. Learn to get involved and feel free to ask questions.
After all, it is your money.