PERS increases, city taking over senior center named as main culprits for city's planned 4.6 percent budget increase
The upcoming 2017-18 proposed fiscal budget for Sherwood is a "status quo" budget expected to rise overall by only 4.6 percent over the current budget with plans to add a single full-time employee and increase the hours of another to full time.
City Manager Joe Gall said there are two main reasons for an increase to the budget, the first being a projected increase of $350,000 in the Public Employees Retirement System, commonly referred to as PERS, reflecting a 24 percent increase over the current year.
In addition, the city will take on operating expenses of the Marjorie Stewart Senior Center after Meals on Wheels, the current operator, announced plans to soon pull out of the day-to-day operations of the center. As a result, the city will absorb the tab of $126,037 for the new expenses from the center while only receiving collected revenues of only $43,000, mostly from groups renting out the facility, which is owned by the city.
"We've never had to spend money to run the senior center," said Gall. "So this is new."
Meanwhile, the city's general fund, the main source for most city department costs as well as employee salaries, is $12.6 million, a 2.7 percent increase over last year's general fund budget.
Regarding city employee positions, Gall is recommending not replacing a court clerk from the city's municipal court while gaining an employee through the hiring of Thressa Caulkins, the current Meals on Wheels director for the senior center whose position will soon be eliminated. Gall said Caulkins will likely be named as interim director. The final employee position involves plans to increase a half-time mechanic position to full time status.
At the same time, Gall is also recommending using $267,215 to fund one-time expenditures that would still allow for retaining 20 percent of the city's operating revenues in an ending fund balance as it has done for several years.
That expense would be used to pay for:
-- A senior planner to work on the city's comprehensive plan.
-- The purchase of human resources software expected to streamline the application process.
-- Replacing the artificial turf at Snyder Park's baseball field.
Gall said there were numerous other budget requests he simply can't support this budget cycle because of their costs including adding another code inspector, hiring another building inspector and purchasing new playground equipment for Pioneer Park at a cost of $120,000.
"The other thing is we cut training significantly next year," he said. That includes the city manager's office where the current training budget of $6,925 will drop to $2,350 in the new fiscal year, which begins July 1. Gall said total training savings across all departments would result in the equivalent of at least one full-time (non-management) employee.
Meanwhile, Gall said the budget contains enough money from system development charges – money paid to the city through developer fees – to build a second dog park at a location yet to be determined. Also, the budget contains money to move forward with design and engineering of a skate park, which would likely be located next to the Sherwood YMCA. Hopes are to receive a state parks grant to defray costs of the skate park in the spring of 2018. If all goes as planned, construction of such a facility could begin in the summer and fall of 2018.
The first public hearing on the budget will be held with the Sherwood Budget Committee – consisting of the mayor and members of the Sherwood City Council, along with seven members appointed by the council – on Thursday, May 11, at 6 p.m. Two subsequent meetings are scheduled for May 18 and 27, if necessary.