Balancing Turlock Budget Would Take 19 Layoffs

David Fransen

Balancing the 2013-2014 City of Turlock budget would require the layoffs of 14 full-time employees and five part-time employees, according to a presentation the Turlock City Council is expected to hear Tuesday.

A balanced budget would also de-fund 13 vacant positions as part of bridging an anticipated $1.7 million budget shortfall.

The layoffs would include two sworn police officers, three firefighters, and the entire Police Neighborhood Services department. Additionally, employees from police records, dispatching, animal services, finance, human resources, and information technology would be terminated. The defunded, currently vacant positions would include a further four sworn police officers and three firefighters.

In addition to the employee reductions, balancing Turlock's budget would require the elimination of all conference travel for the Turlock City Council, City Manager, and City Clerk. A specialized police unit, such as the drugs or gangs unit, would be eliminated. And hours would be cut for the City Attorney and her assistant.

Given the drastic cuts required, city staff is recommending against adopting a balanced budget. Instead, City Manager Roy Wasden recommends using $1 million in reserve funds, coupled with $660,000 in cuts.

The recommended budget would not require layoffs, but would still entail significant cuts.

“While this is the recommended budget it is clear that the reductions will create further strain on maintaining the current level of service across all General Fund Departments,” Wasden wrote in a memo to councilmembers.

The budget would completely eliminate the Partnership Incentive Program, which offers cash to new Turluck businesses. It would cut a federal lobbyist, and reduce contract attorney services.

The Turlock Fire Department would have no budget for unexpected repairs. Police funding for transcription, background investigation, veterinary, and nuisance abatement services would be reduced. And costs to participate in the PLAY after school program would increase by $1 per week.

Tuesday's presentation will bring forward four budgets, from a status-quo scenario to a completely balanced budget. The proposals run the gamut from completely balanced to requiring $3.4 million in deficit spending.

According to a memo, Turlock does not believe it has enough reserve funding to justify a status-quo budget, $1.7 million short of balanced. A department-requested budget would take even more deficit spending.

The final budget picture could yet change, as Turlock is currently undergoing labor negotiations with most labor groups. All four budget proposals assume that employees will continue to make contributions to their retirement funds, and that no other changes to salary or benefits would occur.

On Tuesday, the Turlock City Council is also expected to:
• Finalize the adoption of a “right-to-farm” ordinance, which states that no commercial agricultural operation conducted on agriculturally-zoned land can be considered a nuisance. Neighboring residences or businesses must “accept the inconveniences associated with agricultural operations, such as noise, odors, flies, dust or fumes.”
The right to farm would apply only to agricultural operations in existence for more than three years, which were not considered nuisances when they began.
The ordinance was brought forward as part of a settlement with the California Clean Energy Committee, which challenged Turlock's General Plan in court.
• Consider adopting the 2013-2014 Annual Action Plan for the Community Development Block Grant Program and HOME Investment Partnership.
• Determine whether the city's cap on emergency shelter beds should be increased.
Turlock currently allows for the development of 200 shelter beds in a zoning overlay district, roughly bounded by A Street on the north, Center and F Streets on the east, and Linwood Avenue on the south. Those beds follow an expedited permitting process, as required under 2007's Senate Bill 2.
Turlock must review the 200 bed cap annually. Currently, 98 beds have been permitted, with 49 beds operating. A further 37 beds are planned. As the total does not approach the cap, it is unlikely to increase.
• Issue proclamations in honor of Asthma Awareness Month and Public Works Week.
• Hear a presentation from the California Water Environment Association, which will recognize Dan Frisch as part of the Quarter Century Recognition Program.
• Hear staff updates on capital projects, building activity, and board, commission, and committee vacancies
• Approve a $3.5 million project to construct a one-million gallon concrete water storage reservoir, as well as associated pumps, basins, piping and landscaping. The project would provide additional water storage needed to meet peak flow and storage requirements for the Turlock Regional Industrial Park.
Clark Bros. Inc., of Dos Palos, was the low bidder on the project, and would be the developer.
• Approve paying WLC Architects, Inc., an additional $255,000 for architectural design and construction management services for the under-construction Public Safety Facilty.
The additional costs come due to a four-month delay in construction caused by gasoline-contaminated soils, previously reported on Jan. 23.
• Begin the process to renew the the Turlock Downtown Property and Business Improvement District, setting a public hearing for July 9. The district assesses property owners for maintenance and downtown activities.
The district was formally created Aug. 6, 1998, for a period of five years. It was renewed on June 24, 2003, for a period of 10 years. As such, the district must be renewed if it is to continue.
Under the proposal, properties would be assessed $136,859 in year one, increasing 2.5 percent annually through year ten.
If approved, ballots would be mailed to downtown property owners, with votes weighted by the first floor area as a percentage of the total district.
• Change the start time for Turlock City Arts Commission meetings from 7 p.m. to 6 p.m.
• Conference with real property negotiators in closed session, regarding property at 1801 S. Walnut Rd. A separate closed session item will see Turlock initiate litigation against an unnamed party.

The Turlock City Council will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Yosemite Room of Turlock City Hall, 156 S. Broadway.

Comments 12

  1. Pay cuts says:
    Why not cut police and firefighters overpay and overtime pay instead of cutting an entire position? All the city employees make way too much.
    • Guest says:
      Police Officers in the City of Turlock make 12-18% less than comparable cities while administrators at City Hall make 20-30% more. I encourage anyone to research this and find the truth who the overpaid are.
      • Jeeves says:
        How about you provide a link to YOUR data. Saying it doesn't make it so. I think you're cherry picking your stats.
        • in the know says:
          Comparison Cities used by the City of Turlock: Clovis, Davis, Livermore, Lodi, Manteca, Merced, Modesto, Pleasanton, Stanislaus Sheriff, Tracy, Woodland. Go to their websites and check them out for yourself. Pay and benifets combined: Average is $8895/month, Turlock $7906/month. 12.5% below. As of August, 2012. The difference is even higher for Sergeants. You can look this all up on each jurisdictions websites as well as their administrators pay to see how grossly overpaid ours are.
          • Jeeves says:
            Are you suggesting Turlock is having a problem recruiting officers? Seems to me Turlock should be commended for getting more bang for the buck then. The officers salary benefits seem fine. How many of Turlock's officers hold BA or higher degrees? The average salary in CA is $51K so whats the problem? My neighbor drives a Lexus does that mean I'm entitled to one?
        • In the know says:
          I wasn't implying anything. You simply asked for information that I gave you. You conveniently moved on to another subject once faced with the facts that you don't like. Sounds like a play from Ol' Roy's book. For your information about 50% of the officers hold B.A/B.S degrees or higher. Any other questions? Or do you just want to spew more non sense from your uneducated point of view?
          • Jeeves says:
            If you weren't implying anything then what difference does it make what other cities are paying? You're pulling your degree statistics out of your rump. If you want to make city manager money then go get the appropriate degrees and education. Obviously you're not qualified or you wouldn't be whining. The city manager salary is in keeping with many same size cities in the state. Your real complaint is management has a more competitive skill set than you. Police jobs are easy to fill while finding a good city manager is a whole lot tougher. Deal with it Kojack.
    • Butch says:
      It's much cheaper to pay the over time than to pay for full time posistions. Why do you think that all of the city employees make way too much money? The city council didn't have any problems giving the Fire Chief a 5% raise, but yet cut the staffing levals down to two firefighters at the fire station on Monte Vista.
  2. rsanden says:
    WHY IS THIS ALWAYS THE SAME OLD STORY???? Okay....a few weeks ago Turlock CC wanted to add a tax to pave roads that wouldn't necessarily cover all the costs needed to fix ALL Turlock roads. Now it's this??? WHY??? Why is it always cuts to police, fire and education first with City Council people??? REALLY???? The city can come up with money for ugly statues, skate parks, some bocce ball games to be put into "selected" parks that nobody has even heard of, but when the cuts are needed...the first things mentioned are POLICE, FIRE AND EDUCATION!!! Oh My God...did anyone learn to TIGHTEN THEIR BUDGETS TO NECESSARY ITEMS ONLY??? This means let cut the perks that City Council People get, which I am sure includes a car, fuel and a 6 figure or high 5 figure income. As far as I am concerned every City Council in AMERICA.....including STATE AND CONGRESSIONAL PEOPLE should make no more than someone putting their lives on the line for our safety!!!
    That includes our US military people. Turlock City Council look to other cuts before you put the people of Turlock at risk for $$$$ cuts or all of you should stand in the positions to which you are so happy to cut! I am furious at some of the decisions that are so easy for our City Council to make. Raise Taxes, Hire more useless positions in the City all that mean nothing to WE THE PEOPLE. I think if people want this nation to go in the right direction it should start at the local level. Why? Because we've seen where the people in Congress and Senate start...LOCALLY!!! They get greedy and forget they serve US, not us serving THEM!!! No More Taxes!!! TIGHTEN THE BUDGETS NOT CUT FROM NEEDED SERVICES LIKE POLICE, FIRE AND EDUCATION!!!
    • Jeeves says:
      Oh brother, the city council has nothing to do with education. The reason they get cut is because they suck the greatest part of the $$ out of the budget. Where else would you tighten?
  3. guest S says:
    Did you hear what the C.M. said after Pitcock talked? He said that both engineeing and planning departments are operating in the red and borrowing from the general fund but those departments will pay back the g.f.when times are better.
    There you go again Mike protecting your boys, the engineering department is way over staffed and the vacant Building plan check positon will not be filled.
  4. ggliddy says:
    How many years is Turlock going to listen to the same old spin form the city manager. He has not produced a balanced budget since he has been there. It will never be balanced as long as promotions and new employees are added. Roll up costs for pay steps will continue to keep Turlock from achieving a balanced budget. He is operating with smoke and mirrors and the Council knows it and is only protecting their kingdom. Roy was never qualified to be a CM and your past council knew that. He surrounds him self with self serving climbers that will do or say anything in an attempt to rise to their perceived level of incompetence. That is a bad formula for succes for the city.

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