Bend City Councilors talk money

Bend City Councilors have been looking for ways to tackle the affordable housing crisis for months. On Wednesday during the work session, councilors discussed System Development Charge exemptions for affordable housing.

Assistant City Manager Jon Skidmore and Affordable Housing Manager Jim Long recommended councilors approve $1 million in exemptions each year for the biennium. The goal of the program is to award 15 percent of the exemptions to single-family dwelling projects, projects typically aimed at providing home ownership opportunities to people making 80 percent of Area Median Income, and allocate 85 percent of the awards to multi-family dwelling projects, projects designed to be rental opportunities for people making 60 percent of Area Median Income.

Councilors agreed to the $1 million in exemptions and allocation percentages.

“This is not the solution to affordable housing in Bend, but it’s a big enough chunk that we can do something with it,” said Bend City Councilor Nathan Boddie.

However, there was discrepancy in how long the exemptions should be in place.

Councilor Sally Russell said she wanted the exemptions to jump-start affordable housing while other solutions were being determined, but didn’t want the exemptions to be institutionalized. Councilor Victor Chudowsky suggested having a sunset clause. Councilor Knight said he was in favor of institutionalizing the exemptions with five-year check-ins.

“The more we can fund affordable housing in our community, the healthier it will be,” Knight said.  I’m a staunch supporter of affordable housing because I think it benefits our community in many ways.”

Long explained exemptions happening this year, would be for projects happening next year.

After discussion, councilors agreed to establish a program with $ 1 million in exemptions with a four-year sunset and a 75-percent cap for transportation SDCs.  A first reading on the SDC exemption for affordable housing is scheduled to take place in July.

During the regular city council meeting, City Manager Eric King provided council an overview of the budget. He explained the make-up and purpose of the general fund, where city council has discretion in allocating funds and the challenges the community is facing, such as street funding.

The city is expected to receive $143 million in revenue over the next fiscal year, King said. That money is divided into restricted funds and discretionary funds. Restricted funds are for a specific purposes. He said the general fund – $40 million comprised of property taxes, court fines and a majority of franchise fees – is discretionary. The challenge in the general fund, he said, is limitations on revenue streams.

A public hearing was opened up for several of the items regarding budget resolutions.

Bend City Councilors approved the budget resolutions 5-2 for budget adjustments for the 2013-2015 Biennial Budget, the resolution adopting the 2015-2017 Biennial Budget, resolutions to receive state-shared revenues for fiscal year 2015-16 and the resolution to adopt the 2016-2020 Capital Improvement Programs. Councilors Chudowsky and Casey Roats were opposed.

There was also a public hearing and a vote to adopt the resolution establishing fees and charges for fiscal year 2015-2016. Mayor Jim Clinton and Boddie were opposed.

Councilors and the mayor unanimously approved the budget items that did not require a public hearing, including the resolution to authorize interim year-end loans and the resolution authorizing expenditures for the purchase of real estate, construction of a new fueling station and design and construction of water reclamation improvements.

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