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Will city of Molalla cut swim pool funding after six months?

The proposed budget for the city of Molalla in the coming fiscal year stands at about $19.2 million, which is an increase over last year’s budget of nearly $17.1 million.

Two areas of concern are tied to this year’s proposed budget: the Molalla Aquatic Center and the Wastewater Funds.

AQUATIC CENTER PROPOSED BUDGET According to the budget document, the city is proposing a six-month budget for the aquatic center, in the event an alternative for funding the pool can be identified. At that point, a supplemental budget will be required to move forward with an alternative.

For fiscal year 2014/2015, the city is proposing a six-month budget for July 1, 2014 through Dec. 31, 2014. If this budget is fully realized the city will end with a zero balance at that time.

The aquatic center structure and land are owned by the Molalla River School District and operated by the city of Molalla with an intergovernmental agreement.

Before construction of the pool, the Molalla River School District community faced two different levies; one to build the aquatic center and one to operate the aquatic center. The levy to build passed, therefore the costs associated with the construction of the building was shared by all home owners in the school district boundaries, the levy to operate the pool did not pass.

According to the budget document, the aquatic center has created a problem for the city in that the subsidy to keep the pool open has grown to a level that creates a gross inequity for city residents.

Currently, the revenues needed for operations are from three different sources, primarily from city residents. According to the city’s proposed budget document, the park and recreation fee was a temporary assessment that has passed its expiration, and the city council will need to take action on this fee, creating a need for a different revenue source.

In the event operations are needed beyond Dec. 31, 2014, a supplemental budget will be prepared for the city council and noticed in the Molalla Pioneer as required by Oregon revised statutes.

Currently, the revenues needed for operations are from three different sources, primarily from city residents. According to the city’s proposed budget document, the park and recreation fee was a temporary assessment that has passed its expiration, and the city council will need to take action on this fee, creating a need for a different revenue source.

In the event operations are needed beyond Dec. 31, 2014, a supplemental budget will be prepared for the city council and noticed in the Molalla Pioneer as required by Oregon revised statutes.

WASTEWATER FUND

According to the proposed budget document, the wastewater fund has been burdened with debt payment as well as a lack of creative funding for needed maintenance.

CITY BUDGET GOALS

The primary goals of the city’s budget plan are to maintain a balanced budget—primarily the general fund — preserve the city’s core services, retain the city’s organizational infrastructure and ensure that appropriate internal review functions remain in force.

In a letter to the mayor and city council, City Manager Dan Huff wrote: “Since my arrival in June of 2013, we have diligently examined all phases of our fiscal process, funds, focus and community needs and present a budget that weighs heavily on capital improvements as compared to previous fiscal years.”

NUTS AND BOLTS

The city budget is presented in fund and department categories. According to the 2014-15 proposed budget document, over-expenditures in any category are prohibited, and unexpended budget appropriations lapse at the fiscal year’s end.

Under the city’s expenditure limitation, total expenditures cannot exceed the final appropriation once the budget is adopted. The budget can only be amended during the fiscal year through adoption of a supplemental budget. Supplemental budgets are adopted through the same process used for the regular budget, including public hearings, and will not extend beyond the end of the fiscal year during which they are submitted.

Typically, the city has enough flexibility to carry out the programs prescribed in its adopted budget. During times when an adopted budget has no authority to make certain expenditures, or when revenues are received for which the city had no prior knowledge, it is possible to use a supplemental budget in the current fiscal year.

All of the funds are budgeted using the modified accrual basis of accounting practices.



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