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City of Salem and 2023 GO Bonds Retain Aa2 Rating from Moody's - 01/30/23

Salem, Ore. — Moody’s Investor Service has assigned an Aa2 rating to the City of Salem and the City’s  2023 General Obligation Bonds. 

By approving the $300 million community improvement bond measure in November 2022, residents in Salem have allowed the City to fund a 10-year plan to increase funding for street upgrades, sidewalk construction and repair, construction of bicycle facilities, replacement of old fire engines and equipment, updating information technology and cybersecurity tools, acquiring property for future affordable housing developments, fire stations, and two branch libraries; and complete earthquake safety upgrades to the Civic Center. Projects are planned throughout Salem.

A bond rating can be thought of as a credit score for large organizations such as cities. It helps determine the kinds of interest rates a city can get when it goes to borrow money via a bond. Rating agencies, like Moody’s evaluate city finances based on the strength of the local economy and tax base, financial management, debt, pension obligations and governance.

“We’re very happy that the Moody’s rating reflects Salem’s solid economic growth and outlook, strong property wealth and healthy financial position,” City Manager Keith Stahley said. 

The rating applies to two bond series, 2023A (federally taxable) with an estimated par amount of about $12 million and 2023B (tax exempt) with an estimated par amount of about $88 million. Par value is the amount of money that bond issuers, the City in this case, promise to repay bond holders at the bond’s maturity date.

In addition to economic growth and stability, Moody’s rating notes the City’s strong practices “supported by a good management team and prudent fiscal practices.” One challenge Moody’s noted was the likely need to add to the City’s core revenues, particularly in the General Fund, due to the state laws limiting assessed property valuation growth.  For more on the City’s Five-Year Financial Forecast, watch Salem’s Chief Financial Officer presentation to the Budget Committee in January 2023 and take a turn trying to balance the City’s budget with Balancing Act.

Read the full Moody’s rating. 

Learn more about Moody’s US Cities and Counties Methodology.

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Learn How to Help Monitor Eagle's Nests (Photo) - 01/27/23

Salem, Ore. — Join Salem’s Eagle Monitoring Team! A two-part training will start January 31. 

The first part starts with the technical side of the process on Tuesday, January 31, in Loucks Auditorium from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Volunteers will learn: 

  • Information about bald eagles, their nesting patterns, and nesting timeline. 
  • Learn where our eagle nests are located and the best locations for viewing them. 
  • How to sign up for observation periods, equipment needs, and time commitment.  
  • How to answer the questions in the field questionnaire based on your observations of the nest and eagle activity.
  • How to use Survey123 on your personal cellular device or desktop computer to submit your observations. 

The second part of the training will be on-site at Minto Brown Island Park on Saturday, February 4, from 10 a.m. to noon, starting in Parking Lot 3. Volunteers will visit several observation stations and practice monitoring the Minto Brown Eagle Nest. Bring good walking shoes, a rain jacket, binoculars or a spotting scope, and anything else you need to be comfortable walking and standing outdoors for two hours.

Volunteers will have an opportunity to monitor two nests this year. In addition to the Minto-Brown Eagle Nest, a nest on Audubon property across from Riverfront Park is also included this year.

Monitoring started as a way to learn about the nesting pair at Minto Brown Island Park in order to determine how best to balance the needs of the bald eagle pair with recreation and park management needs. 

“Monitoring provides evidence that the things we’re doing are not impacting the eagles,” City Ranger Mike Zieker explained. “The volunteers sit out there and watch the eagle’s nest and the eagles. They check off boxes on behavior. Are the eagles perched? Working on the nest? Incubating? Feeding their young?” 

They also keep track of the kind of human activities that are occurring in the vicinity of the nest at the same time and noting anything that appears to cause disturbance. 

Eagles mate for life, using the same nest throughout their lifetime, so assuring their nests are undisturbed is particularly important, especially in the first few years. The first year the nest was identified in Minto Brown Island Park, the City worked in consultation with US Fish and Wildlife Service to create a perimeter around the nest tree and close trails on both sides during nesting season. 

On the second year, with a USFWS permit and monitoring program in place, the City opened one of the trails to use, keeping other trails closed. 

This year, which will be the third year since nest establishment, the City will be leaving all trails in the nest buffer open to general recreational use. This is largely due to the volunteer monitoring data collected last year that showed the eagle pair was not disturbed by most activities in their buffer and provided evidence that the pair successfully fledged its chick. 

“Every year the eagles come back, they get more and more comfortable and acclimated,” Mike said. Visitors on the trail are encouraged to stay on the trail and move along. If they want to watch, they should watch from at least 1,000 feet away. 

If you’d like to join the Eagle Monitoring Training, please contact Amanda Sitter, City of Salem Parks Volunteer coordinator,, 503-589-2197.

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Charro attire exhibit on display at Salem Public Library through March 3.
Charro attire exhibit on display at Salem Public Library through March 3.
Charro Attire Exhibit at Salem Public Library (Photo) - 01/11/23

The Salem Public Library has partnered with Comunidad y Herencia Cultural, a nonprofit organization committed to serving the Latinx community, to bring a Charro Attire Exhibit to the Salem community to showcase Latino arts and culture. The Charro Attire Exhibit will feature six mannequins dressed in authentic, handmade Charro Attire which highlights the expression of a custom with a history dating back more than 500 years. “Charrería“ serves as a way of honoring and paying tribute to the way of life of the past.

The Charro Attire Exhibit is designed to highlight the richness of the Latino arts and cultures to build community. Antonio Huerta, Director of Communidad y Herencia Cultural, stated “Practicing charrería in the United States has made me feel connected to my people, my culture, and my homeland. The added benefit of practicing charrería in the United States is the feeling of bringing a part of the Latino cultural history to Mexican Americans, especially to our youth, who might otherwise miss out on learning about this part of their heritage.”

The Charro Attire Exhibit will be on display until March 3. You can view the exhibit by visiting the Salem Public Library at 585 Liberty St SE next to City Hall. The Salem Public Library is open Tuesday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays 1 to 5 p.m. Don’t miss your chance to experience the regalia, tradition, cultural expression, and art of the Charro Attire.


Budget Committee Considers Five-Year Financial Forecast January 11 - 01/06/23

Salem, Ore. – The City of Salem will present the five-year financial forecasts to the Budget Committee on Wednesday, January 11, 2023, at 6 p.m., in Salem City Council Chambers. A demonstration of the new online community performance portal will also take place, which provides public access to performance measure results and enhances data-driven decision-making.

The five-year forecast is an annual process that helps City leaders determine how the decisions they are making now will financially impact the City over the long term. 

“This forecast gives the Budget Committee and City Council context around the City’s financial picture prior to bringing the budget to them for consideration,” said Josh Eggleston, Salem’s Chief Financial Officer.

This spring, beginning Wednesday, April 19, Salem’s Budget Committee meets to consider the City Manager’s proposed budget and receive public comment on the budget.  Salem’s Budget Committee includes the Mayor, City Council, and eight resident members. The Budget Committee is set to recommend a budget to City Council at its last scheduled meeting, May 10, 2023. The City Council will hold a public hearing on the budget in June, then consider its approval at a meeting before the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2023.

Most of the City’s funds are fiscally sound.  In public sector accounting, funds are accounts in which specific revenue types are deposited and expenses associated with specific programs and activities are withdrawn. Several funds, including the General Fund, are experiencing less financial certainty in the long-term.  

The City’s General Fund includes revenues that are not restricted in their use, or that are not designated or legally limited to a specific purpose.  Services and programs in the City’s General Fund include:

  • police,
  • fire,
  • library,
  • parking,
  • Center 50+, 
  • planning,
  • parks,
  • recreation,
  • code enforcement, 
  • economic development, and 
  • administration and support. 

Emergency and public safety services account for 59 percent of General Fund expenses.  With current service levels, the General Fund forecast shows a financial shortfall between revenues and expenditures that is projected to increase over the forecast period to as much as $15 million during the last year of the forecast.

Over the past few years, an infusion of funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) replaced revenue lost due to the pandemic, which has helped stabilize the General Fund budget. Another portion of this one-time ARPA funding was used to begin new programs for unsheltered residents, like the micro-shelters Salem has added over the past couple of years. Federal and State funding will help support these new programs through June 30, 2024. Each forecast is the result of many reasonable estimates based on prior activity and projected financial trends. While it is not meant be an exact prediction, the forecast does provide an accurate overall financial trend. 

Transparent Reporting Portal

At the Budget Committee’s forecast meeting, staff will also feature the introduction of the new Transparent Reporting and Analytics for Residents portal. 

The portal allows the viewer to consider each of these factors with varying degrees of detail and in the context of their performance result areas of the City Council Policy Agenda and Strategic Plan. The portal provides three ways to evaluate the City’s performance:

  • An annual scorecard
  • Current performance
  • Budget

In addition to offering increased transparency for the public, City leaders and staff can use the portal to help assure they are making data-driven decisions.

While the portal will have usable information at its introduction, it will continue to develop as additional data and analysis are available. Over the coming year, as we build additional performance measures and data collection into our daily practices, we expect to improve in these areas:

  • Diversity, equity and inclusion
  • Climate impact
  • Community-engaged policy
  • Reach of our unsheltered services program
  • Reach of communications and engagement

Balancing Act 

On January 11, at the Budget Committee’s meeting, the City will also debut a new on-line simulation tool that allows community members to adjust – in real time -- budgets for City programs and services.  The Balancing Act software lets community members consider changes to the City’s programs and services within existing budgeted revenues or add revenues for more services.  Each community member entry is like a response to a survey.  A summary of the responses we receive will be shared with the Budget Committee as they begin their work in April 2023.  Help us improve this new resource by sharing your feedback.  

For more information email



Judge Authorizes Community Improvement Bond Sales - 01/05/23

Salem, Ore. – The City of Salem has been cleared to sell bonds from the Community Improvement Bond measure passed in November 2022. Before that could happen, the City had to pursue a judicial remedy to a technical error found in the ballot title describing the bond. 

On January 4, 2023, a Marion County Circuit Court judge issued a judgment validating the voters’ approval and authorizing sale of the bonds. No one appeared in opposition during the proceedings, which means the bond sales can move forward. We anticipate the first bond sale as early as February.

While that process was moving through the court, necessary work and public notices related to the bond continued to assure that bond funds would be available once the issue was resolved. 

Proceeds from the $300 million bond will allow the City to fund a 10-year plan to increase funding for street upgrades, sidewalk construction and repair, construction of bicycle facilities, replacement of old fire engines and equipment, updating information technology and cybersecurity tools, acquiring property for future affordable housing developments, fire stations, and two branch libraries; and complete earthquake safety upgrades to the Salem Civic Center. 

The bond will be paid off over 30 years and will maintain City of Salem bonded tax rates at the current levels.

The error involved a required statement that was omitted explaining that property taxes for general obligation bonds are not subject to property tax limitations passed in the 1990s. 

Salem City Council Returns to In-Person Meetings - 01/05/23

Salem, Ore. – On January 9, 2023, at 6 p.m., the Salem City Council will meet in-person in the City Council Chambers at the Salem Civic Center, 555 Liberty Street SE, second floor. After lengthy supply chain challenges, Chambers are now equipped to provide hybrid meetings that allow participation both in-person and online. 

Those who wish to comment in-person before the Council should plan to sign up on the rosters in the Chambers entrance before the start of the meeting. 

“I’m excited to start the year by returning to in-person meetings for the Council,” said Mayor Chris Hoy. “During the pandemic, we were forced to meet virtually to keep everyone safe, but our city should be as open and accessible as possible. As we continue our fight to provide affordable housing to our residents, shelter and services for homeless individuals, and our work to grow the local economy, meeting in-person will help these conversations happen more effectively.”

At Monday’s meeting, city officers elected in 2022 will be sworn in, including the Mayor, City Councilors Linda Nishioka, Ward 2; Deanna Gwyn, Ward 4; Julie Hoy, Ward 6; and Micki Varney, Ward 8; and Municipal Court Judge Eleanor Beatty. Council will also discuss a variety of local issues including: 

  • The airport commercial air service readiness project
  • Board and commission appointments
  • An agreement with the Salem Mass Transit District (Cherriots) for the Youth Fare Program
  • FEMA funding from the Emergency Management Performance Grant

People who wish to view the meeting online can still do so via live streams on the City of Salem YouTube Channel with translation to Spanish and American Sign Language also available.

To sign up to comment online during the meeting, go to the Comment and Participate in a City Council Meeting web page on meeting day between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. to access the online Meeting Public Comment Sign-up Form.

If you have questions related to Council meetings, call 503-763-3459 or email

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