>La Grande Observer | Union and Wallowa Counties' News Leader

Observer news NE Oregon Classifieds Web
web powered by Web Search Powered by Google

Follow LaGrandeObserver.com

La Grande Observer print edition

view all La Grande Observer print publications »

The Observer paper 11/21/14

The LaGrande Observer is now online in a Replica E-edition form and publishes Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Current subscribers have full access to the E-edition.

View Paper

If you are not a current subscriber, subscribe today for immediate access.

Subscribe


Recent article comments

Powered by Disqus

Home arrow Opinion arrow Our View arrow CITY BUDGET TALKS WON'T BE PLEASANT

Print

CITY BUDGET TALKS WON'T BE PLEASANT

Budget hearings begin for the City of La Grande Monday evening and things don't look good. Mayor Colleen Johnson's April 5 column in The Observer gave the impression that the city will be long on requests and short on dollars to meet those requests.

One of the most noticeable programs that is missing from the 2003-04 budget is the urban forestry program. About $20,000 is earmarked to be transferred to the Parks and Recreation Department, but the rest of the program is gone, including the position of consultant Brain Kelly.

Some in the city may be ready to blame everything from the federal government and all its mandates to the state that is in such a cash crunch it is withholding any money from cities that can be legitimately withheld.

Some of the culprits contributing to the budget problems include PERS, the retirement program for most state, county and city employees. PERS will cost the City of La Grande $140,000 more in the coming year than in 2002-03. Another major expense is medical benefits that are growing at a rate so fast no one can keep up with them. The cost in next year's city budget is expected to rise by $119,000.

A third expense that is draining the city coffers at the expense of other programs is the Veterans Memorial Pool aquatic center. Proposed revenues for next year are penciled in at $90,000, while expenses are figured at $317,915, that doesn't include debt retirement of $198,000. That makes a cost of more than $400,000 annually to operate a swimming pool that is getting little use.

The ambulance service that was transferred to the city from Grande Ronde Hospital last year isn't creating the kind of revenue that was expected. In the current budget the city had earmarked revenues of $840,059, but it now estimates it will collect $664,000. Next year's budget proposes revenue of $665,000. Any hope that the ambulance service might help the city's funding shortfall won't be realized anytime soon.

When you consider the impact of PERS, the rising cost of medical benefits, the aquatic center deficit and the revenue shortfall from the ambulance, the city is down $800,000. That will be a huge chunk to swallow.

In the tradition of any organization that needs to feed itself, the city administration is proposing some revenue enhancements for the budget committee to consider: parking fees and permits; raising the cable and garbage franchise fees; resurrecting the idea from last year of instituting a water and sewer franchise fee of 5 percent and finally creating a business license. There isn't any mention of charging a more equitable rate to people who live outside the city limits for services such as the library, the sewer treatment facility or public safety.

There is little doubt that La Grande is in a pickle. Take a look at a copy of the budget at City Hall and come prepared to argue your point in meetings that start at 5:30 p.m. Monday.

Print

blog comments powered by Disqus
News
Local / Sports / Business / State / National / Obituaries / Public Notices
Opinion
Editorials / Letters / Guest Columns / Columnists
Features
Outdoors / Ag / Spiritual / Go Magazine / Portraits
Classifieds
View all classifieds / Jobs / Autos / Real Estate / Rentals / Place an Ad
The Observer
About / Contact / Commercial Printing / Subscriptions / Terms of Use / Site Map
Also Online
Photo Reprints / Slideshows / Weather and Valley Cam / /index.php?option=com_rss&feed=RSS2.0&no_html=1">RSS Feed ?> RSS Feed

Follow La Grande Observer headlines on Follow La Grande Observer headlines on Twitter

© Copyright 2001 - 2014 Western Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. By Using this site you agree to our Terms of Use

  • buy microsoft office 2007 basic download photoshop cs4 mac os http://depts.washington.edu/icutalk/?hos...
  • rosetta stone greek cheap buy microsoft windows 7 home premium price of windows 7 home premium upgrade
    http://isa.univ-tours.fr/?&sn=get&cat=20... achetez du viagra cialis mg vente en ligne
    levitra bayer comprar vente cialis http://ahva.ubc.ca/student/index.php?all...
    levitra acquisto http://www.nhcadsv.org/book9/index.php?p... http://www.nhcadsv.org/book9/index.php?p...
    rosetta stone polish price microsoft office for mac 2013 buy microsoft office mac buy parallels desktop 9 for mac cheap ms office software best price adobe photoshop cs4