Metro is preliminarily planning on shedding $40 million from its 2011-12 budget, a 9.7 percent decrease from last year's expenses.
The drop, however, includes a temporary decrease in debt service from Metro's bond measures, which were affected by the recession. Homeowners would see a 9.5 cents per $1,000 decrease in their property taxes in 2011 under the proposed budget.
The drop corresponds with a $25 million drop in revenue and a desire to avoid dipping into the agency's reserves funds. The proposed $389 million 2011-12 budget is scheduled to be presented to the Metro Council on Thursday.
The agency is proposing to eliminate the equivalent of 17 full time positions as part of the downsizing.
Nearly half of the drop in revenue comes from a $9.5 million decrease in property tax revenues. Also down are grant funding ($2.6 million), miscellaneous revenue ($2.2 million) and interest ($800,000).
Part of the property tax decrease is because Metro hasn't sold some bonds as part of its natural areas program.
"Because we have not issued the balance of the Natural Areas bonds yet, as we had planned to do before the economy slowed our acquisitions down, and because we are issuing and paying off the zoo bonds in small, short term amounts, debt payments are down for FY 2011-12," Metro finance director Margo Norton said in an email.
A Portland-area resident whose home has an assessed value of $150,000 would see the Metro portion of their property taxes drop from $62 to $48 in the proposed budget. The agency has a permanent tax rate of 9.66 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation, with the bonds responsible for 22 cents per $1,000 in the upcoming fiscal year, according to the budget proposal.
Meanwhile, personnel costs continue to rise for the agency. Wages and benefits will rise by 2.7 percent, to $79 million, under the proposed budget – despite Metro cutting its full-time workforce by about 1 percent. Metro is currently negotiating with its largest union, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees.
Proposed positions to be cut are in the Metro Research Center (3.37 full-time equivalencies, or FTEs), Parks and Environmental Services (1.75 FTEs), Sustainability Center (1.4 FTEs), the Metro Council office (1.25 FTEs), communications (1 FTE), planning (1.82 FTEs) and visitor venue administration (5.15 FTEs). In total, 17 positions are slated to be cut, with many of those being temporary jobs that will be allowed to expire or vacancies that won't be filled.
The agency is adding 10 positions in the budget proposal, giving a net of seven full-time equivalencies eliminated. Metro would have 750 full-time equivalencies in the proposed budget, a number that includes planners, zoo staff, workers at the convention center and staff at the Portland Center for the Performing Arts.
The Metro Council is scheduled to finalize the coming fiscal year's budget by June 23.
Garbage increase would cost residential ratepayers about $3 a year
Garbage disposal costs in the Portland region could go up this year, if the Metro Council approves a resolution on its Thursday agenda.
The tip fee – the price haulers pay per ton to dump off garbage at one of Metro's transfer stations – would increase by $3.68 under the proposal, to $89.53 per ton.
According to a report from Metro solid waste staff, the average residential customer would see a $0.25 per month increase in their garbage bill.
The report said more than a third of the price increase is attributable to rising fuel prices. It costs about $23 per ton to truck garbage from the Portland region to the Columbia Ridge landfill near Arlington. Metro is contracted to truck the waste to Columbia Ridge through 2019.
Nearly a dollar of the tip fee increase would be an increase in the Regional System Fee, which covers Metro's overhead for managing solid waste. An increase in the Metro excise tax accounts for 86 cents of the tip fee increase. Metro adjusts the excise tax based on the prior year's trash disposal volume, so as to keep that revenue stream stable.
Redistricting should be done in about a month
The first draft of Metro Council redistricting map was slated for release Thursday, showing minor changes to account for the region's shifting balance of population.
Most of the movement is because of the growth of population of District 4, northern Washington County represented by Kathryn Harrington, and slower growth in District 2, Carlotta Collette's central Clackamas County district.
The most notable shift would be to District 3, which includes southern Washington County and is represented by Carl Hosticka. The northern boundary, currently roughly along Farmington and Canyon roads, would shift north to the Tualatin Valley Highway and U.S. 26. Northern areas of downtown Beaverton would also move into Hosticka's district.
Collette's District 2, which needs to have more residents to be even with the other six council districts' populations, would grow to include Wilsonville and areas south Interstate 205 near Stafford. Parts of Happy Valley would be moved from Collette's district into District 1, represented by Shirley Craddick.
The proposal is extremely preliminary. On Thursday, the council is expected to pass a resolution formally outlining the criteria to be used in drafting formal redistricting proposals, including using school districts as criteria for establishing district boundaries.
Councilors are expected to vote on a redistricting proposal by mid-May, with a May 23 deadline to establish new council district boundaries.