NEWPORT — According to financial documents from city hall, the city’s general fund revenues are expected to drop in the next five years.
The projections were made after the city’s finance work group found some facets of the city’s budget was already seeing declining revenues.
“The finance work group met three times, reviewed financial forecast assumptions and took a look at how those assumptions play out in our main operating funds,” said Newport City Manager Spencer Nebel. “They took a look at a number of suggestions, ideas and concept that could be explored in order to address a sustainable budget for those funds that are having some challenges with revenues, not growing at the same rate expenditures are growing.”
A city manager’s report dated Dec. 3 states the general fund is the city’s most critical fund, and pays for operations at several city-funded buildings, including the Newport Recreation Center, the Newport Municipal Airport, the Newport Visual Arts Center, the Newport Performing Arts Center, the Newport Library and Newport City Hall, among other facilities.
The financial trends the city’s working group forecasted didn’t take include how to pay for necessary repairs and improvements to these buildings, including constructing new roofs or replacing HVAC systems.
“It looks like if we didn’t transfer out of the general fund, the general fund would be fine,” said City Councilor Dietmar Goebel. “It would be sky-high. We have lots of revenue there. But the city facilities fund, the airport fund, the rec fund would not do too well.”
Another major expenditure the finance work group did not include in the projections include repairs to the Big Creek Dams.
City officials are seriously concerned damage could occur to the dams in an earthquake, and seismic issues at the dams continue to be a problem the city will have to fix eventually.
According to Nebel’s report this week, the cost of seismic improvements to the Big Creek Dams could total $70 million, and the city is making efforts to bring in outside money to pay for those improvements. A bond might be necessary, the report said.