Sodaville Budget Includes $430K Grant for Water Help

Budget Committee members listen to a proposed budget report issued by Brandon Neish, back row, fourth from left, on June 27. Photos by Sarah Brown

Sodaville City Council adopted a $742,380 2024-25 fiscal year budget during a meeting held June 27. More than half of that budget comes from grants through the State of Oregon to help install a new well and haul water.

Sodaville hired the City of Lebanon to help with its 2024-25 budget. Brandon Neish from Lebanon worked alongside city councilors, the city accountant and staff to prepare the budget for Sodaville.

City Council and Budget Committee members discuss the 2024-25 FY proposed budget during a June 27 meeting.

In Neish’s budget message, he noted the General Fund starting balance is projected at $75,900, which is down 44% from three years ago. He reported that operating expenses are increasing and may in the future start outpacing revenues.

The General Fund in the 2021-22 budget had a starting balance of $136,623. In 2023-24, the starting balance was $129,900. For 2024-25, the starting balance was at $75,900.

Mayor Brian Lewis said the large drop in a starting balance is likely due to water hauling expenses. He explained to Lebanon Local that last year’s deep drawdown at Green Peter Reservoir seemed to affect Sodaville’s water supply because the city found itself needing to haul in more water than usual.

Sodaville usually trucks in between $50,000 and $60,000 worth of water, but last year they had to haul in $93,000, he said. He recalled the city transferred $30,000 out of the fund to cover those higher expenses.

“Our water supply ran out really quick last year,” Lewis said. “Last year we were already on water restrictions at this time of the year. This year our tanks are full.”

He seems to feel optimistic about accessing more water once well five is back online, in addition to a $60,000 grant from the state for water hauling.

“It is clear at this point that the city is kind of burning through its fund balance, and that is something that needs to be rectified in the future before you end up in a deficit,” Neish said during the budget meeting on June 13. “But at least for this year, I will tell you, you have enough to at least make ends meet. But going forward, that will probably be a concern for the budget committee and for the council.”

Total expected General Fund resources for this new fiscal year sits at $124,133. Comparatively, the 2023-24 budget resources were $181,150.

He also noted the Water Utility Fund balance is down to a starting balance of $30,000 with an ending balance projected under $6,000, and the Street Fund started with a negative balance, which required a transfer of more than $30,000 from the General Fund to support operations.

“Your street fund is in some dire straits,” Neish said. “What’s necessary next year (2024-25) is a transfer from the General Fund to support that fund and make sure that you can balance at the end of the year. You’ve been carrying a deficit fund balance in the Streets Fund for the last few years. This will put you back on solid footing there, but you’re gonna have to figure out how to handle operations moving forward because there’s not enough money coming in from the state to handle your operations on the street side.”

Changes for the 2024-25 fiscal year include an increase in salaries to account for cost of living adjustments and the infusion of an expected grant from the State of Oregon to fund the new well project and water hauling expenses.

Budgets from the past few years indicate the city operates between $400,000 to $500,000, but the upcoming year’s budget will skyrocket to an expected $742,380 due to $430,000 in state grants.

“Although there are sufficient resources to cover expenditures, the city will need to use fund balances, raising concerns about future financial stability,” he stated in his report.

In addition to city councilors, Budget Committee members were Tim Bartly, Peggy Bishop (chair), Denise Jackman, Tammi Lewis and Faith Pires.