Hermiston town hall planned to discuss budget

By on Wednesday, November 22nd, 2023 in Columbia Basin News More Top Stories

HERMISTON – The city of Hermiston is hosting a town hall on Monday to share information about the options being considered to amend the city’s budget in 2024 that would allow the Hermiston Police Department to add three new positions. The city council is asking for the public’s feedback on what it should do next.

The city’s budget calls for those three officers to be added, but does not provide the funds to do so. In order to balance the budget for the new fiscal year which began July 1, the council made $300,000 in cuts. For the past five months, the council has reviewed each city department’s budget needs.

“The budget committee and city council approved a budget that cut costs in a variety of ways, including leaving several public-facing service positions dark,” City Manager Byron Smith said. “We are now looking at the potential of restoring funds for those positions and enhancing the Hermiston Police Department by finding additional revenue streams that have previously been discussed.”

Among the items being discussed are cuts to materials, services, and street funds; updating the planning department’s fee structure; increasing the transient room tax on hotels and motels; creating a business license fee, creating a public safety fee on utility bills; and considering other voter-led tax options.

“These services are valuable to residents and we want the process to be open and transparent,” Mayor Dave Drotzmann said. “Through city council meetings, public comment, and previous surveys we have heard that maintaining a low crime rate, providing programs for youth (sic) and seniors, and reducing the burden on taxpayers is important. We’re working toward a solution that continues to make Hermiston a livable, vibrant, and affordable community.”

The town hall meeting is at 5:30 p.m. Monday at Hermiston City Hall, 180 N.E. Second Street. It begins with the opportunity to learn about the options and ask questions. A presentation on the budget and a chance for public comment begins at 6 p.m.

In addition, residents are asked to participate in an online survey regarding the budget at https://hermiston-or.civilspace.io/en/projects/2023-hermiston-surveys/engagements/hermiston-2024-budget/sections/1.