Letter to the Budget Committee & Residents of Beaverton
As the City of Beaverton's interim City Manager, and Budget Officer, it's a privilege to submit my budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2021-22. As a direct result of the City's historically prudent financial practices, and in spite of current revenue losses, the City remains in a strong financial position. To the extent possible, this budget represents the priorities of the Mayor, City Council and the Beaverton Community Vision plan. The Council began the process of identifying and prioritizing their collective priorities but, as this document is being prepared, it remains a work in progress. The sequencing and timing of issues related to transitioning to a new form of government, while simultaneously enduring the confines and uncertainty of a global pandemic, have complicated and impeded the budget preparation process. This is further complicated by the inclusion of offsetting revenues provided through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, for which spending parameters have not been defined as of the time this proposed budget was prepared. This proposal anticipates and encourages adjustments that further align the document with priorities. Our work continues as we build on the plans developed over the past decade to achieve the aim of being the "Best of Oregon."
Much like Beaverton residents, our entire financial team rose to one occasion after another in response to the series of obstacles to preparing and administering the budget. Social distancing requirements have increased our reliance on technological substitutes in place of more traditional in-person interactions. These adaptations have been helpful but they present their own set of challenges as interactions are constrained by eliminating face-to-face interactions. With limited exceptions, I will complete my interim service without having met the people with whom I work everyday- including my direct reports. When magnified citywide, every aspect of this year's budgeting process is subject to mitigating factors. The Fiscal Year 2021-22 budget has been prepared with the hope that by January, 2022, things will be back to a semblance of the pre-pandemic "normal", as more and more people are vaccinated and are able to return to gathering in person, whether for dining in restaurants, shopping, enjoying entertainment venues or returning to their offices for work.
Construction and changes to Beaverton's core have continued at a strong pace even through the pandemic, a sign of hope for future things to come. While construction nears completion on the Patricia Reser Center for the Arts and the Creekside Parking Garage, the Public Safety Center and its plaza on the comer of SW Hall Blvd and SW Allen Blvd was completed and staff have moved into the building.
Many businesses were forced to close in response to the Governor's stay at home order in March of 2020 to slow the spread of the coronavirus, and remained shuttered now. The City stepped in with a Business Recovery Program to help businesses with rent and commercial m011gages. This program initially began with a budget of $1,020,000; a combination of $513,000 in the City's General Fund from savings found in various line item budgets allocated in FY 2019-20, and $507,000 from the General Fund's Contingency Account. By fiscal year end, approximately $600,000 had been spent for this program with an additional $317,000 spent so far during FY 2020-21. As FY 2020-21 began, the City learned it would be eligible for CARES funding (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security), both as reimbursement for prior expenses and to grant out to the community in the new fiscal year. By fiscal year-end of 2020-21, the City expects to have disbursed roughly $4.5 million in assistance, with most of the funding from the CARES act, some from state assistance, and some from City funds. In FY 2021-22, the City is budgeting to disburse the remaining $243,000, and is fortunate that FY 2021-22 will bring more stimulus funding. These assistance programs are designed to help businesses weather a temporary setback and enable them to hit the ground running as businesses start to reopen.
As we look toward the new fiscal year and how to budget for the City's priorities, we are facing significant reductions in several key revenue streams, increases in selected expenses and concerns for the long term effects from the economic implications of coronavirus pandemic on property tax revenue, intergovernmental revenue and development fees.
However, in spite of these obstacles the budget achieves the priorities of the community in several meaningful ways. In January of 2021, the City closed on a loan from the EPA's WIFIA (Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act) program for approximately $81 million, to finance growth-related infrastructure including new transmission pipes, aquifer storage and recovery wells, and a storm water re-use system known as the purple pipe system. The City Library has embarked on a strategic planning effort to ensure services and programs are meeting community desires. The Community Development Department is actively working with the business community to keep communication channels open to see how the City can help businesses thrive.