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City 101: Budget Perspective Part 3

This is the third of a 3-part series on the City’s budget and planning for the future. In part 1 we provided an overview of the current challenges. In part 2 we shared more details about short and medium-term solutions, and in this part 3, we share a longer-term vision for fiscal sustainability and high-quality city services.

The City of North Plains is committed to financial sustainability and is preparing important long-term strategies to ensure our community has the services it needs and the best quality of life possible. We are working on ways to both increase available land and step up our economic development efforts in order to attract more businesses for more employment and services right here in North Plains. This will take time, but would also create a better balance between residential and non-residential tax revenues to pay for services.

In 2021, the North Plains City Council adopted these economic development priorities to guide the City’s updated Economic Opportunity Analysis related to UGB expansion and residents’ quality of life:

PRIORITY 1: Reverse the trend of bedroom community status for North Plains with a thriving jobs-housing balance by expanding and diversifying employment opportunity and industry profile and presence.

PRIORITY 2: Grow business investment in North Plains to encourage expansion and diversification of the City’s property tax base to reverse the imbalance created by a growing bedroom community development trend.

PRIORITY 3: Ensure and sustainably fund community-supporting infrastructure, economy-supporting infrastructure, and expanded City services such as recreational offerings that enhance community health and diversify the City economy.

PRIORITY 4: Expand the local presence of important, everyday commercial services for the residents of North Plains which offers a shorter and safer distance rather than at  extended and costly distance to other cities.

These priorities highlight the larger challenges and speak to the need to act boldly to enhance City livability through improved jobs-housing balance, fiscal sustainability, adequate infrastructure and services, and local presence of shopping and services to reduce vehicle miles traveled and enhance safety.

One of the primary fiscal challenges is North Plains’ growth as a bedroom community for employers in other cities, which has pushed the city tax base into an overreliance on residential tax assessment. Taxable assessed value from employment uses in North Plains is among the lowest among West County neighbors and will be the lowest after Brynhill is built out (see graph at the bottom of this page - click to enlarge).

Given the current North Plains employment tax base, it would be fiscally impossible currently, and worse with each passing year, to provide a higher quality of life services comparable to what residents of other nearby cities enjoy.

Adequate City fiscal resources are critical to the longer-term success of North Plains, and the goal is to have them generated largely by new business and industrial growth. These economic plans will take time to implement but will enable the City to provide the full array of municipal services needed by its residents and businesses going forward. Be on the lookout for more information in the near future about economic development efforts and how the city can accommodate more employment opportunities in the Urban Growth Boundary expansion.