The City Council in late June adopted a more than $189 million budget for fiscal year 2020-21, which began on July 1. However, councilors made it clear that their budget work will continue as they work to address what they have identified as racial inequity in Tigard.
Before the council approved the budget during their June 23 meeting, Mayor Jason Snider summarized the community input that the council had received. In general, it called for adjusting the budget to address systemic racism in the city, with specific calls for divesting the police department and putting resources toward solutions for food and housing insecurity and mental health resources, as well as adding police body cameras to the budget.
“We’ve received robust public comment over the last several weeks. As discussed, we need to pass this budget by the end of June in order to be functional in July,” Councilor Heidi Lueb said. “The council is committed to having continuing budget discussions and making changes throughout the year that are necessary, so please don’t see this vote tonight as shutting the door; the door is still very much open. This is a procedural item for us to continue to move forward and have these meaningful conversations and these changes that our community members are asking for.”
Regarding police body cameras, the council agreed to direct staff to come up with a plan during the first quarter of the fiscal year. City Manager Mary Wine said that staff is exploring the issue, including looking at grants and other potential funding sources for the cameras.
“Thank you staff. This is the culmination of a ton of work,” Snider said following the unanimous budget vote. “Thank you very much on behalf of the council and all the citizens of Tigard. And yes, citizens, we know we have a lot more budget work to do in the first quarter of the fiscal year than we normally do. We acknowledge that, and we’re committed to doing it
The new budget represents a 36 percent increase – nearly $50 million – over the previous year’s budget, an increase that is being driven primarily by capital projects moving from the design phase to construction, Finance Director Toby LaFrance said at a June 16 City Council meeting.
“The city of Tigard is financially stable, we do a good job of living within our means,” he said at that meeting. “We are resource constrained, and that means that our revenues in many areas do not grow as fast as the expenditures that those revenues are supposed to support. And we’re pressed to provide services our community needs, and that means that we are service-level challenged.”
In discussing the affect of COVID-19 on the budget, LaFrance said that Tigard is fortunate that it is not dependent on revenues from areas that have taken the brunt of the economic impact of the pandemic, such as income tax, sales tax and event revenues.
“We are still able to provide the basic services that our community needs at the level that they have come to expect,” he said. “That said, it is still early in the pandemic and early in measuring how this is going to impact out economy.”
Tigard has healthy reserves, LaFrance said, and can take some time to see where the economy is heads.
“We will watch this closely and we’ll make adjustments to services when needed and we’ll keep council and the budget committee apprised as we do so,” he said.