The Corvallis Budget Commission recommended approval of a $179 million spending plan for 2020-21 in a virtual meeting Tuesday night.
The budget includes approximately $62 million in general fund spending and would add 18 new hires if the City Council, as expected, approves the plan at a June 1 public hearing.
Passage involved a bit of wrangling as commissioners (the Budget Commission consists of the nine city councilors and nine citizen members) put forth amendments large and small during budget deliberations that lasted a shade over two hours, with members spending an additional 25 minutes on other topics.
Amendments passed added $38,000 to the budget, while one that failed might have reduced it by $24 million.
Here is a look at the amendments:
• Commissioners voted 9-7, with Rich Carone abstaining, to take $30,000 out of a discretionary fund and award it to the men’s cold weather homeless shelter. Carone abstained because he owns the Southeast Chapman Place building that houses the shelter operation.
• Commissioners voted 13-4 to add $8,000 in discretionary funds for The Arts Center. Cynthia Spencer-Hadlock, executive director of The Arts Center, was the lone community members to dial into the webinar and speak to the commission, although more than a dozen others emailed in their support for The Arts Center.
• Commissioners voted unanimously to support adding $300,000 to the budget that covers moving the tennis courts at Lincoln Elementary School to Riverbend Park. The courts are being moved because the Corvallis School District needs the space for the new Lincoln school. The school district is paying for what is now a $550,000 project, but the expenditure must be included in the city budget because of the intergovernmental agreement between the city and the school district that allows for the transfer of the courts from school property to city park property.
• Commissioners rejected on a 15-2 vote an amendment by Commissioner and Ward 1 Councilor Jan Napack, who called for a 3% increase from the actual spending of $150 million that occurred in the 2019-20 fiscal year. The proposal would have capped 2020-21 spending at $155 million, $24 million less than the plan submitted by City Manager Mark Shepard and Finance Director Nancy Brewer.
• A second Napack amendment, which would have limited the new hires in the plan to those that involved emergency services, failed on a 16-1 vote.
• Commissioners also turned down on a 13-4 vote an amendment from Andrew Freborg that would have taken a chunk of the increase in spending on a department-by-department basis and move it into a reserve fund to pay for future Public Employee Retirement System costs.
Final action on the budget came on a 15-2 vote, with only Napack and Commissioner Deb Rose voting “no.”
Commissioners also approved acceptance of state revenue sharing funds and voted 13-3 to set the property tax rates for the next cycle. Such an action usually is free of controversy, but Napack, Commissioner and Ward 4 Councilor Barbara Bull and Commissioner Mark O’Brien all voted "no." None of the three explained their “no” votes during the meeting.
The meeting opened with a brief discussion of the budget of the city’s new Urban Renewal Agency. City voters approved an urban renewal district for a 400-acre swath of South Corvallis in March 2019. Because of the newness of the district only $90,000 is in the budget for 2020-21, with no major projects on the horizon until more tax revenue accrues. The budget for the agency was approved unanimously.
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