A budget subcommittee comprised of Mayor John Lazar and Councilman Ted Howze met with City Management to wrap up their work of putting together budget proposals for the entire Turlock City Council to consider adopting.
The actual deficit total for the 2010-11 General Fund Budget has been changing since the beginning of the budget subcommittee process from about $4.8 million to $5.5 million to a currently projected deficit of $4 million with some already proposed cuts.
City of Turlock management is still working on issues that were never settled before last year’s budget adoption, totaling about $1 million. A funding source has still not been identified for approximately $600,000 to keep street lights on, along with funding the maintenance for signal lights.
$300,000 in fleet maintenance shortfalls are just now beginning to be compared to bidding for outsourced services as staff’s cost has not been able to reach a “competitive rate” for other departments.
Some issues were not able to be completely agreed upon by the two Council Members who were briefed by City Management on potential cost reduction situations.
Issues such as how to fund the street lights or to turn them off and outsourcing city services are policy decisions that the entire Council will have to discuss and decide on.
The Turlock Fire Department exceeded the subcommittee’s expectations as they proposed nearly $500,000 in cuts even though they were asked for $300,000. The Fire Department’s cuts included the retirement of the Fire Chief (around $211,000 in savings) and assistance from the firefighters union which is funding the early retirement of 2 senior staff positions. Firefighters also agreed to decrease the City’s contribution to retiree health care by 1 percent each year over the course of three years.
The Turlock Police Department presented $600,000 in cuts but almost all would negatively impact services provided to the community. Eliminating the K-9 program, several support positions, and closing the Police Station lobby for reports two days per week. The transcription service is also being proposed to be cut which would make officers write their reports, inefficiently taking them off the street to write hours worth of reports.
The Turlock Recreation Department is planning to cut recreation swim at Turlock High School and Pitman High School while making Turlock’s only owned pool the only city staffed recreation swim location. Part-time salaries may be lowered by $1 (some make up to $17.50/hour) and swim lesson fees may rise by $3.
Councilman Ted Howze questioned at a previous budget subcommittee meeting whether or not to bring back in-house the approximate $180,000 hotel tax money the City gives toward the Turlock Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) ran by the Turlock Chamber of Commerce. Because both Recreation and CVB work bringing and planning sporting tournaments that fill hotel rooms into town, duplication of services were to be found. The Turlock Chamber of Commerce has offered $41,000 to cover the services the Recreation Division has been providing.
Parks and Streets Divisions will continue to operate as they did last year but the policy decision to outsource is always still on the table.
The Planning Department will lose an employee as proposals stand while heavy discussion has grappled with the pros and cons of running a lean machine with lower quality of service to developers or spend money to provide a higher quality of service to developers. The development of the City is what ultimately is needed for increased economic development. Outsourcing continues to be questioned in regards to the real bottom line and quality of service levels.
Labor negotiations are still ongoing and once settled, may defer some of the proposed cuts and close the deficit gap.
The budget subcommittee’s General Fund Budget proposals and unsettled issues will go before the entire Turlock City Council for possible adoption on June 22, 2010.
Here are the videos from the four previous budget subcommittee meetings: