558 N. Main St., Prineville, OR 97754 | (541) 447-6205
Strong finances highlight State of City address
Mayor Betty Roppe also referenced upcoming challenges the City faces
Mayor Betty Roppe gives the State of the City address.
January 10, 2013
The Prineville City Council kicked off 2013 in fitting fashion Tuesday night as Mayor Betty Roppe delivered her 2012 State of the City address.
While she focused on a variety of topics, much of her speech highlighted the financial condition of the City of Prineville.
“One of the first questions I am asked is how is the City financially — so I will begin there” she told the audience before launching into her report.
Roppe gave a generally positive review. She noted that fund balance improved by about $990,000 city wide during the 2012 fiscal year. Of those, the general fund maintained a beginning balance of $960,000 despite a decrease of $121,000 in property tax revenue. Franchise fees, which have received a considerable boost from data center electricity consumption, more than offset the loss in taxes, with an increase of $230,000 from the prior year.
Roppe made specific mention of Apple, which the City helped recruit to Prineville early last year. She told the audience that City Manager Steve Forrester had worked successfully with Apple project management to keep the focus on providing local contractors the ability to participate in the data center build-out, including such local companies as ABC Fence, EOFF Electric, and Taylor NW.
“Apple reported to the City in late November that out of nearly 40,000 man-hours worked, 61 percent were from employees living within a 40-mile radius of Prineville,” Roppe boasted.
The City enjoyed a successful year from the Prineville Crook County Airport, which they began managing in 2011. Roppe reported that in 2012, the facility has increased occupancy and its fuel sales margin, and secured grant funding through Connect Oregon IV for capital improvements.
“Financial performance so far has exceeded expectations,” she added.
Along with the financial news, Roppe also provided an update on the Bowman Dam bill, which allows construction of a hydroelectric power plant on the dam and allocates 5,100 acre-feet of water to Prineville. She joined City Engineer Eric Klann and Ochoco Irrigation District Assistant Manager Russ Rhoden on a trip to Washington D.C. in 2012 to see the legislation successfully move through the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. At this time, the bill awaits further action in Congress.
Roppe addressed City infrastructure improvements as well, highlighting ongoing efforts to improve street conditions, wastewater disposal, and water supply lines. She announced that water line replacements have reduced the amount of water lost from leaks by about 100 million gallons per year.
While much of the City report focused on positive developments, Roppe did reference some upcoming challenges and room for improvement. For example, the City must find a way to fund PERS (Public Employees Retirement System) payments to the State of Oregon, which are expected to increase considerably.
“We are looking at PERS and trying to get ahead of that issue as most municipalities and government agencies that are participating in PERS need to be doing,” Forrester said.
The City will also try to make gains with its railroad and golf course, two enterprises that Forrester said the City is not yet satisfied with.
He noted that the sluggish economy has slowed golf play, and Meadow Lakes Golf Course and Restaurant have felt the impact. At the same time, Forrester sees reasons for optimism.
“I think the golf course has really got some momentum right now and been able to do some tremendous financial gains in a market that has not given them a lot of help.
With the railroad, the City has been able to maintain the account and has either broken even or endured a modest loss, but Forrester says that is not acceptable.
“The reason we have been able to do that is we have had the Connect Oregon grants that we can bill,” he explained. “When our people aren’t busy, we can put them to work on those projects and offset their costs.”
Roppe reported that the most recent Connect Oregon-funded Prineville Junction is about 70 percent complete. The City has not applied for a new Connect Oregon grant for further railroad improvements.
In spite of the challenges that lie ahead, and continued room for improvement, Forrester said the City remains in a good position for future success.
“The City, given the economy and degradation of tax revenue, is doing magnificently well.”