The Turlock City Council held a Budget Workshop on Tuesday that lasted over 4 hours and a majority of the Council came to a consensus on most of the proposed budget.
A finalized FY2009/10 budget will be adopted when Council votes at the June 9, 2009 City Council Meeting.
There were some concerns and additional requests for information or adjustments including the Fleet Maintenance Division, an additional $700,000 street light issue, and whether or not to retain the Arts Facilitator.
Councilwoman Amy Bublak had concerns about the legal liability of not having a Chief Building Inspector. City Attorney Phaedra Norton explained that the position is not required but rather someone must perform those duties and that there will be. Bublak also stated that she appreciated the 5% contribution from the employees. Bublak also reaffirmed that she wanted to continue the incremental use of reserves as is proposed. Bublak stated that she could not support the Arts Facilitator at this time.
Vice Mayor Ted Howze expressed that he feels after all these budget adjustments and cuts that the city is still $1 million short while also weighing in on the possibility of the state taking another $1 million. Fleet Maintenance was a big issue with Howze as it was over $300,000 in the red. Howze said that he would like to stop all General Fund transfers into the Arts fund and cut the Arts Facilitator, leaving the Arts with the $36,000 of revenue that comes into the fund through different sources and making the Arts work with a zero based budget.
Councilwoman Mary Jackson read off a list of directions she was requesting from staff and wanted every option on the table before she makes a decision on Tuesday before cutting over 20 jobs proposed to her on Friday. Jackson seemed to focus more on economic development possibilities. Her list of concerns lead Interim City Manager Gary Hampton to believe she wanted a whole revamp of the proposed budget but that he’ll get the answers to her questions and concerns. Jackson still supports the Carnegie project and stated that the Arts Facilitator position would be a major part of the Carnegie’s operations so that she supports retaining the position.
Councilman Kurt Spycher expressed his gratitude to the Budget Sub-Committee and acknowledged their finding of a $5.2 million deficit while 82% of the budget is personnel. Spycher had a major concern with the possibility of the state taking $1,000,000 if the propositions don’t pass. Spycher agreed with Howze’s concerns about the Fleet Maintenance $300,000 deficit and the $700,000 street light issue which has not been fully addressed. Spycher said that he could not support the Arts Facilitator position at this time, saving $93,000.
Mayor John Lazar proposed that the budget process be moved forward despite Councilwoman Jackson’s request to continue discussion on budget possibilities. Mayor Lazar suggested breaking down the budget by departments and that the City Council vote department by department with alternative options as expressed at the Budget Workshop.
Mayor John Lazar said “As opposed to having more sub-committee meetings (I like you Ted, but I’ve spent enough time with you Ted, I’ve been dreaming about you for 2 weeks)… Can we move this forward.”
Since there are only a handful of issues, those will be discussed and debated during the vote on June 9th. Councilwoman Jackson’s requested information will be provided with all her well before hand according to Interim City Manager Gary Hampton.
A City Manager budget memo for the Fiscal Year 2009/10 contains information explaining the proposed budget for FY2009/10.
The 2009/10 budget review process began with an estimated $5.1 million deficit and would have been over $6 million if the previously negotiated 5% employee contribution did not take place.
On February 10, 2009, during Fiscal Year 2008/09 Mid-Year Budget review process City Council appointed a City Council Budget Sub-Committee, comprised of Mayor John Lazar and Vice Mayor Ted Howze. The focus of the sub-committee was to work with Staff in developing the FY2009/10 Budget, critically evaluating all operational costs, inclusive of personnel staffing levels – seeking expenditure reductions.
While allocating up to $2.5 million in General Fund reserves, making operational cuts, considering terminating Management Leave and suspension/postponement of all Merit Pay Step increases, and such, staffing reductions are also being proposed.
The budget reduction strategy for this fiscal year embraced City Council direction of “top down” approach to staffing reductions. Through this budget the city will reduce the organizational structure by one Department, eliminating the Administrative Services Department, established in 2007 with the addition of the Administrative Services Head. Oversight of Finance, Human Resource and Information Technology service areas, that comprise the Administrative Services Department, will be shifted back under the Assistant City Manager.
One personnel issue that is specifically stated in the City Manager memo is that the City Council Budget Sub-Committee, who has dedicated many hours to this budget process, concurring with the recommendations contained herein, was not able to reach concurrence on the proposed elimination of the Arts Facilitator position.
The summary of proposed eliminated positions for FY2009/10 states: