The City of Island City is on firm financial ground for 2019-20.

Island City’s city council voted Monday to adopt a general fund budget of $472,550 for 2019-20. The budget is down $230 from the current year’s budget.

Mayor Robb Rea said the budget leaves the city in a sound position.

“It will allow us to keep all of our staff and programs,” he said.

The city’s expenses are expected to be down about 9% in 2019-20, according to Rachel Brown, the City of Island City’s budget officer. The reason is that the city has completed its $2.9 million water improvement project. In 2018-19 the city spent money on upgrading the computer system of its well on Walton Road as the final part of the water improvement project. The water project, which took about four years to complete, also included the installation of a new well and covered reservoir on McAlister Road and the installation of new pipes throughout much of Island City.

Rea said that while Island City’s fiscal picture is relatively solid, it is not as good as he would like.

“We are stable, but I don’t think we are flourishing,” he said.

The mayor said the city has potential to grow significantly because of its infrastructure and available land. He wants the city to be in a position to continue to provide services that residents need if there is a growth spurt.

“We want everything to be in place for potential growth. We do not want to play catch up,” Rea said.

The mayor said the city council will later conduct a work session to address this issue.

In another action item at Monday’s meeting, the council voted to adjust Island City’s overage water rate structure for multiple housing units including apartment complexes. The change means apartment complexes will have an overage water fee system more comparable to that of single residential units.

Island City house residents pay a $50 per month base fee for water service, allowing them to use up to 7,480 gallons of water a month. Households are charged an overage fee of roughly 21 cents per 100 gallons if they exceed 7,480 gallons a month.

Previously the owners of apartment complexes were charged this extra fee for each gallon over 7,480 gallons used by tenants in total. The meant that if an apartment complex had 10 units and each unit used 1,000 gallons in a month, the property owner would have to pay an overage fee on 2,520 gallons of water.

Under the new overage structure the total number of housing apartment units will be multiplied by 7,480 to determine at what point an overage fee would be charged. For example, if an apartment complex has 10 units, a total of 74,800 gallons of water could be used by their occupants before an overage fee would be charged.

Rea said this system “will be fairer” for apartment owners.

The new overage water fee structure took effect immediately and will be retroactive to June 1.

Union’s budget for next year set

It is official; the City of Union’s budget is set for 2019-20.

The Union City Council voted Monday to adopt a general fund budget of $5.3 million for 2019-20, up about 12 percent from its present year’s spending plan.

City of Union Administrator Doug Wiggins credits a portion of the increase to careful attention to expenditures over the past year, which means the city will begin the 2019-20 fiscal year with more cash on hand.

The budget is also up because it includes a $700,000 grant from the Oregon Department of Transportation for the installation of sidewalks on First Street, Third Street and Fulton Street. The sidewalks are intended to help students since they will be near the perimeter of the Union School District.

The preparation of this year’s proposed budget went more smoothly this year than in recent ones in part because of new accounting software the city purchased, Wiggins said.

“It is better than what we had before,” the city administrator said.

The city has had the software for nine months.

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