After 11 hours of Administration & Finance Committee meetings over the past two weeks (Thank you to Councillor Josh Turiel for adding up the actual hours – ekk!) the Fiscal Year 2022 Budget was the main item on the City Council Agenda this evening (adding 3.5 more hours to that tally). You can view the Proposed Budget for FY22 here: https://www.salem.com/fy22What was presented to us, and reviewed in detail in the A & F committee, was a balanced budget that included an increase of 4.6% from the prior year. Roughly 2.2 million of this increase is from fixed costs (think: insurance, retirement, etc). The remaining increases are mostly attributed to restoring staffing in our fire, police and schools. Last year (my first budget season) with so many uncertainties, we did not replace staff, and many were furloughed. We are now able to correct that imbalance. While there was much discussion in the committee meetings, I would like to briefly highlight two changes in this year’s Budget:
A new Position was created to lead up our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion activities
A new Department was created with a focus on Sustainability and Resiliency
As a member of the Race Equity Task for the past year, I had a front row seat to see the need for this position. Many of our neighboring communities have created such a role, and it is our time to do so. A community member wrote just prior to the meeting with this note: “While Salem is a wonderful place to live, it is not perfect”. I am looking forward to this new role to help lead the change in helping Salem get closer to perfection.
The Sustainability & Resiliency Department is a new department, but not a new issue, and will be led by existing staff that are already doing amazing things for the city in the areas of Sustainability & Resiliency. Without their own department support, they have saved, on average, over $500,000 annually for the City and brought in on average $250,000 in revenues annually. Just imagine what a difference they can make as a full department. I am proud of how Salem has responded to, and continues to respond to, the crises that face us today; whether it be a virus, racial inequities or the climate crisis, we need to put our resources towards solving.