TALENT — Nearly 25 percent of the city's next fiscal year budget is designated for four capital projects.

TALENT — Nearly 25 percent of the city's next fiscal year budget is designated for four capital projects.

The capital projects include construction of the new Community Center building, funded by a $1.5 million federal grant; Front Street reconstruction, priced at $429,000; about $400,000 for the city's share of Highway 99 improvements; and $450,000 for short-term loans to the Talent Urban Renewal Agency to build the Main Street-West Valley View road connection.

On Wednesday, the City Council adopted an $11.16 million budget for 2014-15, up 3 percent from last year's $10.83 million.

Council members used a new process to allocate $10,000 to groups that submitted requests for smaller projects.

"Any money that we had (left over) for discretionary spending came back to the City Council," said Mayor Bill Cecil. "It was a new thing. It went pretty well."

Together for Talent was awarded $1,320, Talent Public Art received $3,480, the Chamber of Commerce got $3,200 and Economic Development got $2,000.

Community Center construction is anticipated to start in the fall, Cecil said. The center will be built immediately north of City Hall.

Front Street next to the railroad tracks is scheduled for street and sidewalk improvements, storm drain upgrades and installation of new water lines.

The Oregon Department of Transportation will begin design work this year on the Highway 99 redesign from Rapp to Creel roads, Cecil said, although the timeline for construction is not yet set.

Interim financing is needed by TURA so construction on the Main Street-Valley View connection can start before the agency receives tax revenues in the fall. City officials agreed to provide the loan, with repayment occurring in the fiscal year. Construction is expected to start in mid-July.

Personnel costs are up 6 percent, to $2.38 million, for the coming year. Workers covered by a bargaining agreement will receive a 1.1 percent cost-of-living increase.

A part-time finance/administration position will be refilled after it was left vacant last year. The position provides front desk reception and customer service support. No new positions were created.

An estimated 26 to 30 percent increase in liability insurance expenses is reflected in the budget. The city hasn't received the notice of renewal with a dollar amount yet, said Denise Woodman, administrative services director.

Greater amounts for legal fees are budgeted for the coming year after legal costs exceeded expectations in the current fiscal year. Budgeted legal expenses rose from $1,250 to $7,500 for the police department, $6,000 to $11,000 for community development and $10,000 to $20,000 for administration.

Money was set aside for future road projects in the capital improvement fund. A total of $160,000 was earmarked for Lithia Way and $128,000 for Rapp Road to begin engineering for future construction.

Talent property will be taxed at a rate of $3.23 per $1,000 of value, the maximum rate allowed. Taxes will bring in $961,300, compared to $913,350 in fiscal 2014.

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboomwriter@gmail.com.