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.