OAKRIDGE, Ore. - Nearly 200 Oakridge residents packed the town's high school auditorium Thursday night to find out why money is missing in the city budget.
City Administrator Gordon Zimmerman told the audience the city of Oakridge is $420,000 below target.
Zimmerman said in July 2010 the city had $980,000 in reserves and that by the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2011, the city had $180,000.
The adopted city budget for the 2010-2011 fiscal year slated reserves to be taken down to approximately $600,000. Zimmerman said that means the city is $420,000 below their target.
"We are in a big mess," said council member Ernie Baszler prior to the meeting. "Mistakes have been made and we just need to figure out what happened."
Many residents arrived with the same question in mind: what happened to all that money?
"Where did all the money go," asked one Oakridge resident before the meeting. "It didn't just disappear."
Zimmerman has cited at least two possible reasons for the discrepancy: budget software problems and 150 fewer utility customers. Zimmerman said the result is less revenue.
"The city will recover from this situation and we will be better for it," said Zimmerman. "At this time we are reviewing all revenues and expenditures to determine why we are $420,000 below the target."
Zimmerman said the city may raise rates for water customers to help make up the difference.
He said an internal audit may determine what went wrong. But many members of the audience disagreed. They said they want a state, not internal, audit.
"You got a lot of people in here who are angry.," said one angry speaker to the City Council. "I don’t think an internal audit is going to do this. You need to get the state in here to do it right."
At times, the crowd in the auditorium was rowdy with a few residents calling out profanities and requesting the resignation of representatives.
Some of the public comments turned toward police conduct and road quality.
Several members of the audience called out angry remarks to Zimmerman and the council.