The Hermiston City Council adopted the city’s 2018-2019 budget on Monday night.
At $54.94 million, it is about $4.7 million smaller than the current year, due mostly to capital projects such as the Harkenrider Center wrapping up.
“(The budget) includes a number of the city council’s goals,” City Manager Byron Smith said, referencing livability, housing and workforce development.
The budget includes a 3 percent raise for city staff and includes some new personnel, including a parks foreman to handle day-to-day operation of parks. That will free up the parks and recreation director to focus on long-term projects, including a feasibility study for a new indoor aquatic center or wellness center and a parks master plan. A storm water manager and part-time clerical positions at the Hermiston Community Center and Harkenrider Center were also added.
The most expensive capital project the city plans to tackle in the coming fiscal year is a new one-million-gallon water tower on the corner of Punkin Center and Northeast 10th Street, accompanied by upgrades to water infrastructure in the area. The $4.5 million project is expected to cut down on the cost for housing development in the northeast part of town.
The city also plans to build the West Highland Trail Extension this fall, connecting Riverfront Park and Southwest 11th Street via a pedestrian trail running parallel to Highland Avenue. The council awarded the bid for that project Monday to Humbert Asphalt, which was the low bid at $343,225.
On Monday the council also amended its employee handbook, and passed a resolution changing the language of its code pertaining to telecommunications companies using the public right of way.
Assistant City Manager Mark Morgan said the city had changed its code last fall to require companies to pay franchise fees on revenue from cable internet service, but Charter Communications had been unhappy with the wording and had been negotiating with the city on clarifications that would help limit the precedence-setting for other jurisdictions outside the state. The company has not been paying those fees during negotiations but has promised to start now that the matter is resolved.