Gearhart presented a stable budget at a time when many cities are struggling with the economic impacts of the coronavirus. Driven by stable real estate values and less reliant on tourism dollars than other coastal communities, the city’s budget committee met last week to consider a proposed $2 million budget for the new year.
“The fund resources for this fiscal year in Gearhart is in a very good place,” City Administrator Chad Sweet said. “We’re very lucky to have a community that is efficient. We have reserves. Our budget does not depend on a lot of tourism. With all those being said, I think we’re very healthy.”
Tax rates for property owners remains the same as last year, at 1.005 per $1,000 of assessed property value.
The general fund, the largest portion of the budget, stands at $584,000, an increase from last year’s $570,000.
About $24,000 in increased personnel services drive the increase, including $3,000 for payroll processing, $5,000 for cost-of-living and STEP salary increases and a $16,000 increase in public employees retirement system costs.
“My budgeting last year was light on PERS,” Sweet said. “This year I loaded it a little heavy. My treasurer and I are working out a way that we can better allocate the PERS amount to the correct departments.”
Transient room taxes are budgeted at $250,000, about $125,000 less than last year’s figure, a reduction because of the coronavirus, Sweet said.
Building permit fees, even without a proposed increase currently before the City Council, are estimated to keep pace with last year.
A drop in future building fees may come because of a decline in Gearhart’s buildable lands as home sites are developed.
The general fund’s materials and services show a $10,000 reduction from last year, with a $5,000 reduction in legal fees and a reduction in the city’s audit cost.
The city’s police department budget shows decreases in both personnel services, as both Social Security and employee retirement costs declined.
The fire department shows a $17,000 budget increase, largely attributable to pay for a full-time firefighter promotion, and retirement costs.
The fireman’s ball, which typically brings in about $20,000, is administered through the Gearhart Fireman’s Foundation and is not included in the city budget.
The city expects a $25,000 grant to assist in firehouse planning, and $15,000 grant to prepare the parks master plan.
The committee considered requests from 12 nonprofits for funding from state revenue sharing funds, totaling $41,225. The budget must be approved one month prior to the July 1 start of the fiscal year.
“Gearhart keeps pumping,” Sweet said. “It just keeps going forward.”