Turlock City Council saw the first draft of the proposed 2015-16 and 2016-17 fiscal year budgets at the May 12 meeting, both of which will cut deficit spending.
In 2014, City Council approved a $32.4 million general budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year, which included approximately $1.6 million in deficit spending. The amended budget for this fiscal year is estimated to end with around half of that deficit spending due to strong revenues and departments not exceeding all of their approved budgets, according to the City of Turlock.
The proposed general fund budget for the upcoming fiscal will look to increase spending — up to $34.7 million — while cutting deficit spending — down to $825,953; in 2016-17, the budget is estimated to increase to $35.7 million, with $621,366 in deficit spending.
“Revenues are going to come in stronger and historically departments manage very frugally, they won’t fully spend, so recognize that’s the budget number, the actual number will significantly lower,” said City Manager Roy Wasden on deficit spending estimates. “…I will assure you that the efforts will be made by all of the department heads and the way we run this city to try to beat that number, to try to assure that we bring you a balanced budget."
To pay for those deficits, the City of Turlock will be dipping into its reserve funds, which will stand at approximately $10.8 million at fiscal year-end, according to Director of Administration Services Kellie Jacobs-Hunter, $6.5 million which is a hard reserve set by Council. $2.5 million of the reserve, which is not included in the $10.8 million, is dedicated to capital equipment replacement.
Councilmember Bill DeHart shared his concerns about the consistent dipping into the City’s reserve fund, which he says has set the City of Turlock apart from other cities. DeHart asked if there was a policy or plan in place to help build that reserve back up.
Despite a more than $2 million dollar increase in the upcoming budget, Jacobs-Hunter says there is not a huge change in City services.
“The large majority, 85 percent of the increase, is based upon the costs of the new labor agreements that the City was successful in achieving with all of their labor groups,” said Jacobs-Hunter about the difference between the 2014-15 and 2015-16 budgets.
Similarly, Jacobs-Hunter estimates that approximately 90 percent of the increase from 2015-16 and 2016-17 is due to labor agreements.
The largest contributor to the general fund, as is the case every year, is public safety, which uses approximately 77 percent of the budget in 2015-16.
“Public safety is obviously the largest user of the general fund,” said Jacobs-Hunter. “It accounts for $26 million this year and that includes police, fire, animal services, and neighborhood services."
The proposed budget have not yet been approved and Turlock City Council will continue to discuss the budgets and look at each department individually as Council prepares to adopt the final budget.