Budget Committee Considers Proposed 2024 Salem City Budget

Posted on April 16, 2023

Salem, Ore. — Salem’s Citizen Budget Committee begins their work on the City Manager’s proposed 2024 budget at the first of four scheduled meetings Wednesday, April 19, at 6 p.m. at Salem City Council Chambers, 555 Liberty Street SE., in Salem.

Annual Budget

Weekly Wednesday meetings continue April 26, May 3, and May 10. All will be held at Council Chambers. The April 26th meeting will include a public hearing for the proposed Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) and review of the Salem Urban Renewal Agency (URA) budget.

The City’s $749.6 million proposed budget for 2024 covers the period from July 1, 2023, through June 30, 2024, and includes estimates of revenue and costs of services and capital projects.

Comprised of resident members, the Mayor, and City Council, the 18-member Citizen Budget Committee is the fiscal planning advisory board. Its role is to review quarterly financial reports and the five-year financial forecast, then to analyze and recommend a budget to the City Council and adopt the City’s property tax levy rate.

Based on conversations with City Council, a proposed increase to the monthly City Operations Fee beginning July 1, 2023, is included in the 2024 budget to maintain and expand General Fund services. The proposed revenue will support the addition of two park rangers, two code enforcement officers, expansion of the Salem Outreach and Livability Services team by four members, and increased security at the downtown parkades and Civic Center campus. Salem is one of many Oregon cities projecting a deficit in their General Fund due to property tax limitations.

At a work session April 5, staff sought City Council feedback on options to:

  • Address the gap between the cost of services and available revenues
  • Avoid cuts to critical community services
  • Create a sustainable funding source for some of the public safety services to meet community needs that the City is unable to provide today
  • Provide funding for day-to-day operations of new bond-funded facilities

In addition to the City Operations Fee increase, Council also considered three options for an employee-paid payroll tax, which would help meet some of the needs of our growing community.

The budget is the City’s financial plan to provide services for our community. The proposed budget is guided by the 2021–2026 Salem Strategic Plan, City Council’s 2023 Policy Agenda, and City policies. It continues public safety, community and urban development, library, parks and recreation, street maintenance, water, wastewater, and storm water utility services.

Priorities for 2024 include:

  1. Responding to our sheltering crisis by siting and operating micro-shelter village communities and the Navigation Center, continuing to develop local partnership and funding support for a sobering center, transitioning more households into supportive housing, and building more permanent supportive housing.
  2. Planning for our future by carrying the 2022 Our Salem Comprehensive Plan vision into other plans, the largest of which is the Transportation System Plan, as well as launch the riparian inventory for natural resources, further the Climate Action Plan, lower traffic speeds on neighborhood streets, advance Housing Production Strategies, and prepare a Solid Waste Policy.
  3. Engaging our community by improving the customer experience by finishing construction at the Civic Center and Public Works, opening a one-stop-shop Customer Service Center at Salem Civic Center, developing a comprehensive engagement and communications improvement plan, reviewing the City Charter, continuing investment in Community-Engaged Policing, strengthening community resilience and supporting community preparedness efforts, expanding neighbor-to-neighbor communications, and assessing equity and delivery of Salem programs and services.
  4. Sustaining infrastructure and services by delivering projects in the Safety and Livability Bond, exploring opportunities to lower expenses, exploring opportunities for additional revenue to sustain and increase City services.

Any person may provide written testimony on the City and Urban Renewal Agency budgets for consideration by the Budget Committee. Send written testimony to budgetoffice@cityofsalem.net by 3 p.m. the day of the meeting. In-person public comment will also be available at the meeting. To provide testimony through video conference, sign up online the day of the meeting between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. The meeting is available to view online through the CC:Media YouTube channel or Comcast channel 21.

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