The City of Turlock budget subcommittee, comprised of Mayor John Lazar and Councilman Ted Howze, met with city staff to specifically discuss development services. The public was allowed to sit in on the meeting.
The Turlock City Council previously decided to look at the General Fund Budget in a two-year cycle and it was pointed out that the city is facing a projected approximate $5 million deficit for the 2010-11 fiscal year.
If Council decides to split the deficit by cutting, $2.5 million in cuts would equal about a 12.5 percent reduction of the General Fund Budget.
While the City Council has previously agreed to use monies from General Fund Reserves, the additional cuts and economic uncertainties make using reserves to balance the budget more risky each year Council does so.
Most of the General Fund Budget is comprised of employee salaries and benefits. Employee positions or salaries must be cut to balance the budget if reserves are not to be used to fully make up the deficit.
Employee reduction and outsourcing were brought up as potential solutions to balance the development services area.
The debate grapples with the quality of services the city would be able to provide developers and that outsourcing may cost nearly as much.
Another factor in debating city employees versus outsourcing is the recently increased cost of medical and retirement benefits for city employees.
An additional issue specific to development services is how to fund the continued unresolved funding of traffic signals and street lights totaling around $600,000.
Mayor John Lazar requested meeting with TID regarding the street light funding issue while there is a possible option of charging residents additional fees to keep the lights on, as Keyes residents approved doing recently.
The Housing Department is one of the best funded areas and with work to do because of federal stimulus and grant funded projects.
Development Services Director and City Engineer Mike Pitcock will work on proposals as the budget subcommittee works to bring a complete budget proposal to the entire Council.
No action was taken during the ad hoc subcommittee meeting.
The budget subcommittee will hold another meeting open to the public on Thursday at 2pm in the Yosemite Room at City Hall. The area of discussion will be the Municipal Services Department. Other areas of the City will be discussed in later meetings on May 11th and 13th.