LA GRANDE — The La Grande City Council meets Wednesday evening, June 2, to consider passing the 2021-22 budgets for the urban renewal district and the city.

The La Grande Urban Renewal Agency general fund is approximately $1.8, which includes a little more than $1 million for capital project programs, according to city budget documents, while the city’s overall budget for 2021-22 tops $53 million, including a general fund of $14.55 million. The La Grande City Council also serves as the La Grande Urban Renewal Agency.

The budget committees for the city and urban renewal program held public hearings May 10 and 11 to go over the budgets and approve them. Now it’s up to the city council to put its seal on the budget proposals.

City Manager Robert Strope in his budget message noted the city kept a close eye on three revenue streams due to the pandemic: the transient room tax; parks, recreation and aquatics program fees; and state money for streets.

“City staff has been extra diligent this year and made adjustments as we saw the impacts to revenues,” he stated in the budget message.

Strope also reported the city council reinforced the desire to act upon the recommendations of the fiscal committee, including not reducing service or staffing levels and pushing to increase revenues in the general fund. The budget, then, maintains staff at 110 full-time employees, with a couple of exceptions.

Cook Memorial Library is adding two part-time positions, but staffing there remains essentially the same.

The city police department, however, is adding one full-time clerk to help manage the increasing number and complexity of records requests, releases and sealing cases to meet legal requirements. But the department overall is losing staff, as two officers are retiring in the coming fiscal year.

The city plans to shell out funds in 2021-22 for some new vehicles. Topping that list is the fire department’s $195,000 capital outlay for a new ambulance.

According to city budget documents, the city has four ambulances and needs to replace its oldest, which is from 2006 and now has 201,000 miles.

Likewise, the police department plans to spend $53,000 on a new vehicle for fleet rotation, the parks department has a $28,000 expense for a 3/4-ton pickup, and the city also has budgeted $340,000 for a street sweeper that could replace one of its pickups.

The city’s budget proposal includes $2 million in funding from the federal American Rescue Plan. The city has yet to receive the funds. Strope during the budget hearings explained the council can decide on how to use the money later, after the federal government sets regulations for the money.

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