Survey: Conversation Continues on Funding our Future
(April 26, 2017)
In recent months, city has highlighted its financial challenges in Mayor Cook’s guest column in the Tigard-Times, in Cityscape and in the proposed 2017-2018 city budget.
The city also has launched an extensive public engagement campaign, including two surveys, to seek your opinions how the City should maintain services at their current level. More than 1,500 residents participated in the two recent surveys.
Respondents to the first survey indicated that they were very satisfied with city services and believed they receive good value for their taxes. Yet they did not know that the city’s revenues were not adequate to support the current level of city services.
In a follow-up survey, we gauged if residents would support a temporary local option levy to maintain City services at their current levels. Here’s what you told us.
What’s more, support for a possible levy to maintain existing service levels grew 18 points after respondents learned more about potential cuts without a tax increase. We also learned that the amount and duration of the levy would determine if the community might support it.
The city is committed to keeping residents informed. by the end of May, we will convene a Levy and Bond Advisory Task Force. We will attend community events throughout the summer to answer your questions and provide information on a potential levy. Mayor Cook also will continue his monthly conversations at Symposium Coffee.
The city is developing a webpage that will show the funding challenges and answer your questions. Tell us what you want to see on that page. Send an email to email@example.com. We will frequently update the webpage to reflect community input.
Funding the Future:
Addressing Financial Challenges to Maintain a High-Level of Service
When the Great Recession hit in 2009, the City addressed financial challenges by reducing staffing by 6 percent, decreasing services and programs, and delaying routine maintenance.
Continuing to operate under these constraints has become increasingly difficult as Tigard’s population has grown more than 8 percent and continues to expand with the development occurring in River Terrace. At the same time, our property tax rate remains the second lowest of any city in Washington County with a population of more than 5,000.
We have been able to continue to offer a high-level of service by spending wisely and securing one-time funding through regional, state, and federal grants. Grants have allowed the city to:
- Fund a replacement of the North Dakota Street Bridge, which includes sidewalks and bike lanes
- Increase pedestrian safety by making walking and biking routes safer at the seven elementary and two middle schools in Tigard.
- Upgrade the Tigard Street Trail into a path to employment linking one of the city’s manufacturing corridors and downtown commercial district to workers in surrounding neighborhoods.
- Provide infrastructure to the Hunziker Industrial Core that will bring new jobs to the city.
- Address two properties on Main Street with environmental concerns.
These efforts have been successful in the short-term, but are an inadequate long-term solution for avoiding an erosion of the city services that you tell us are important.
Here’s What You Said in the First Survey
Looking ahead, we are launching a comprehensive engagement effort. This includes three surveys, focus groups, and outreach to all parts of the community.
In January, more than 700 residents responded to the first survey on the programs and services that matter and how they think the city should fund those services in the future. Overall your responses show that:
- 96% of respondents are very or somewhat satisfied with the services, including police, library, parks and recreation, planning and permitting, street maintenance, water and sewer, and more.
- 75% of respondents believe things in Tigard are headed in the right direction.
The community was less clear on how the City should address the ongoing budget challenges presented by not having the funding to continue providing high-quality services. In the next survey, we will focus on this question and seek your input on how the city should address critical financial needs.
Our dialogue on this topic will be ongoing. Please reach out to us with your questions. In the meantime, we will respond to the most frequently asked questions: What is the city doing to address traffic? Doesn't a population increase translate to a tax base increase? Why don’t you cut payroll by reducing overtime?
If you have any questions, contact Kent Wyatt, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Residents Share Views in Biennial Community Survey
Once again, Tigard residents have given the city high marks as a good place to live.
That is one of the main findings of the city’s biennial community attitudes survey, conducted in November and early December. Results were presented to the City Council at a workshop on Dec. 15. The survey provides the council and city officials an in-depth overview of residents’ opinions on many topics of importance to the community.
Traffic and congestion also remain the top concerns among issues they would like the council to address in 2016. These findings closely match the findings from the last survey conducted in the fall of 2013. Residents also expressed a high level of support for the city’s strategies to promote walkability and improve pedestrian safety, which help to promote the city’s strategic direction.
The city conducts community attitude surveys every two years.