Letter to the Budget Committee & the Citizens of Beaverton

As required by Chapter 294 of Oregon Revised Statutes and Chapter V, Section 19, subsection H of the Beaverton City Charter, I am submitting the city’s budget for Fiscal Year 2015-16. This budget represents the priorities of the Mayor, City Council and our Community Vision. We listened, we planned and we followed through! You can draw a line from the community visioning exercise in 2009 to the Civic Plan to the Creekside Plan, the South Cooper Mountain Plan and other programs. The follow-through is the framework for much of this year’s budget with changes in programs and activities such as diversity, community policing, arts/cultural center, redevelopment proposals for the Beaverton Central Creekside Redevelopment district, connectivity of neighborhoods, library expansion, citizen involvement in the Capital Improvement Program (CIP), sustainability and customer service.
Mayor Doyle
Beaverton’s revenue trends are up over the past year. New construction and related fees are increasing and property value appreciation from this enhanced level of activity is beginning to produce sufficient income to match the demand for services. We are digging out of the consequences of the Great Recession. In the aftermath of the economic downturn, we brought the community together by expanding programs while holding the line on tax and fee increases. That effort reduced the fund balances of two significant funds: the General Fund and the Street Fund. We are making adjustments this coming year to restore prudent fund balances. The budget proposes several fee increases as an alternative to raising the property tax rate. For the Street Fund, I reluctantly recommend reducing the amount of street paving from the levels of the past several years. I am awaiting constructive activity from the Oregon Legislature as we work with the Oregon Transportation Forum to advocate for changes in transportation funding statewide.

Overall, Beaverton and Washington County remain an enviable place to live, work and play. This is the seventh year of my administration and we prepared a quality budget document for the Budget Committee, City Council and the residents of Beaverton. Among the tasks for the coming year’s agenda is to revisit and update the Community Vision with another expansive community engagement process. More than 6,000 people have already participated in the renewal process. We will take the preliminary results back to the community to sharpen the focus and refine the priorities.

Here are some ways in which the follow-through becomes the framework for the budget. This budget recommends devoting and directing time, funding and energy toward these important activities:
  • Several additional employees were added to the Community Development Department in order to push the redevelopment of the city’s core area, during FY 2014-15. We are anxious to work with a developer in the coming year to determine a feasible plan for the Creekside area focusing on land in public ownership. The additional staff increases our capacity to respond better to the development community, acquire and sell properties and analyze proposals for new housing, parking, office, hotel, retail and civic uses that might be proposed.
  • The Building Division’s budget shows an additional full time employee for the processing of permits to support an active commercial and residential development community. The Site Development Division of Public Works also employed additional staff in FY 2014-15 in order to review and inspect private construction plans that connect to public streets, sidewalks and utilities.
  • The Beaverton Urban Redevelopment Agency (BURA) is closely aligned with the city. This year, as the tax increment has grown, will be its first active period with plans for storefront improvement programs, predevelopment assistance and strategic land acquisition. Most of the agency’s focus is in the Creekside district or Old Town, both primary topics in the Civic Plan.
  • Development will also occur in portions of the 544-acre area on South Cooper Mountain. This area provides the community a potential of approximately 3,500 future housing units, a new high school and a small neighborhood commercial area. The focus of development is the intersection of Scholls Ferry Road and 175th Avenue with a new high school and an apartment and townhouse complex underway. The Civic Plan, adopted in 2011, described the strategy of adding housing units in this urban growth expansion area as well as in Beaverton’s core. Funds for streets, pathways and other infrastructure appear in this and future budgets as properties progress through the development approval process. The new supplemental Transportation System Development Charge (TSDC) is key for the street system required for the South Cooper Mountain area.
  • Another group of activities featured in the budget is the host of community events and activities for which Beaverton is known. Financial resources are dedicated to sponsorships, staff time, advertising, marketing, facility rentals, hiring artists and other professional services for activities that range from neighborhood picnics, lighting of the tree at the Holiday Open House, Flicks by the Fountain, Beaverton Last Tuesdays and 10 Tiny Dances to civic events such as voters forums and special programs on current events.
  • Those types of arts and cultural activities are now the basis for a serious effort to create an arts and culture center, perhaps in conjunction with Creekside district development. A significant amount of preliminary design has been completed along with a business plan, including a capital campaign. More site analysis and design are planned for the coming year.
  • Responding to the enthusiastic use of the branch library at the Murray Scholls Shopping Center, we expanded the footprint of the library by 76%. This facility is already more popular than many other main libraries in the county. The expansion requires increased operating expenses. One of the Mayor’s and the City Council’s top priorities is to seek passage of a new local option levy that benefits Beaverton and all the libraries of the Washington County Cooperative Library System.
  • Community policing continues to be a primary guidepost for the Beaverton Police Department. The department’s trusting relationship with our residents is earned and developed every day. We will address the continuing needs for a modem public safety facility in the coming year.
  • Beaverton continues to operate a mediation service for a variety of issues and recently expanded into the topic of mortgage foreclosure mediation. With the passage of legislation in 2013, the Oregon Foreclosure Avoidance Program has developed into the Dispute Resolution Center’s largest mediation program. During the past 18 months, over 630 cases were assigned. Most (57%) of the cases concluded with foreclosure avoidance measures, 75% of which have been home retention options.
Some things do not change and the budget reflects our continuing enhanced law enforcement and citizen safety activities, maintaining the city’s stable financial position, expanding the public’s understanding and involvement in our city government. The budget also enhances city sustainability efforts, expands business assistance, retention and attraction to provide excellent customer service to Beaverton citizens. This is a goal-oriented, fiscally conservative budget pursuing an ambitious set of goals with all of our fiscal, physical and people resources. The total property tax levy rate of $4.38 per $1000 assessed valuation continues for another year.

The budget continues to achieve the City Council’s long-range goals. You will find references to these goals throughout the budget document. Those goals are:
  • Preserve and enhance our sense of community.
  • Use city resources efficiently to ensure long-term financial stability.
  • Continue to plan for, improve and maintain the city’s infrastructure.
  • Provide responsive, cost effective service to the community.
  • Assure a safe and healthy community.
  • Manage growth and respond to change consistent with maintaining a livable, full-service city.
  • Maintain Beaverton as a regional leader in cooperative efforts with other agencies and organizations.
  • Provide and support a highly qualified and motivated city work force.
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