New Year, New Problems: City Council tackles budget and ethics laws | Local News | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon
The Source Weekly’s reporting is made possible by the power of your support. Be a part of it!
Pin It

New Year, New Problems: City Council tackles budget and ethics laws 

In a unanimous vote last week, the City Council authorized adjustments that cut back on funding for fire and police service, as well as road

In a unanimous vote last week, the City Council authorized adjustments that cut back on funding for fire and police service, as well as road maintenance, while backfilling a shortfall in planning revenues that will temporarily stave off additional layoffs. The council has previously discussed how the slumping housing market is the reason behind a downturn in revenue from the city's engineering, planning, and building departments. These revenue shortfalls were also cited as the reason for the city dismissing 10 employees by March of this year.

The re-allocation of General Fund money includes substantial cuts to the Fire/EMS Fund, Street Operations Fund, and Building Code Enforcement Fund, as well as a $535,000 cut to the Police Department. Some of those cut-backs were redirected to other cash-strapped departments, which are turning to the general fund to bridge a massive budget shortfall attributed to the drop in fee collections. The biggest bailout went to the planning department, which got a $1.65 million from the general fund to help staunch the proverbial bleeding of a $2,708,000 shortfall in fee collections due to the slump in home building.

Despite the re-allocation of funds, Bend Interim City Manager Eric King said that the city "is not in a crisis mode."

"This is an operational process, not a crisis situation," King said.

After all the shifting is said and done, the council trimmed $3.2 million from the city budget.

The council, with the exception of one councilor, also adopted a resolution authorizing an $80,000 loan from the General Fund to the Tourism fund for the ArtMatch Program, which will eventually be repaid between 2008-09 from hotel/motel room taxes.

ArtMatch, a public/private collaborative effort to increase the presence of public art in Bend, was founded in December 2006 and is the force behind the art in Bend's roundabouts.

Councilor Chris Telfer cast the lone no vote on the measure. Before the vote she said the city needs to protect the General Fund from further raiding.

Rules, Rules, Rules

Before the regular meeting got underway, the council met with city attorney Jim Forbes in a work session to review the new Oregon government ethics laws recently passed by the state Legislature, which went into effect Jan. 1. In what seemed like a first day of school syllabus review with Forbes as the teacher and the City Council and staff as the attentive and at times confused students, Forbes outlined the new rules.

Under the new guidelines, public officials cannot accept more than $50 in food or other gifts from someone within a single year. As Forbes explained it, if a councilor went out to lunch twice with someone who had an interest in the city's affairs and those meals added up to $50, the councilor wouldn't be able to accept future meals.

Mayor Bruce Abernethy wasn't too hot on the new rules, calling certain aspects of the new law, "completely ridiculous."

Councilor Jim Clinton also expressed his dislike for the requirement that officials submit documentation of the meals and gifts they receive.

"I'm not going to report every time someone buys me a cup of coffee," Clinton said.

About The Author

Pin It


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

Today | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed
February 2021 Central Oregon PubTalk

February 2021 Central Oregon PubTalk - McMenamins Old St. Francis School

Thu., Feb. 25, 4:30 p.m.
Submitting an event is free and easy.

Newsletter Signup

Get Central Oregon daily news
directly in your inbox

Get Social

Latest in Local News

  • Listen: Source Weekly Update 2/25 🎧

    • Feb 24, 2021
    Here's what you can do to help keep our local butterflies from extinction More »
  • Climate Change Takes a Toll on Oregon

    • Feb 24, 2021
    According to the fifth Oregon Climate Assessment by the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute, climate change will continue to impact daily life in Oregon More »
  • Midtown Rising

    • Feb 24, 2021
    With Bend's "Zoom Town" status and its ongoing population boom, its scene needed room to grow. Enter Midtown, rising slowly but surely—and with a vision More »
  • More »

More by Mike Bookey

Want to advertise with us?

For info on print and digital advertising, >> Click Here

© 2021 LAY IT OUT INC | 704 NW GEORGIA AVE, BEND, OREGON 97703  |   Privacy Policy

Website powered by Foundation