Turlock City News

Turlock City News

Soiseth: Committed to Bold Financial Leadership


The following is an Op-Ed written by Turlock Mayor Gary Soiseth.

This last Tuesday, four out of five councilmembers voted in favor of my recommendations within a two-year budget. Based off a “line-by-line” analysis of our City's funds, this budget’s central goal is to address the need to pay down our City’s debt, to pay lump sum charges when it is to the City’s economic advantage, and to slowly restore the departments that made the largest concessions during the economic downturn.

The main component of the recommended budget is eliminating some of the City’s liabilities, primarily the $1,839,608 remaining balance of the City of Turlock Fire Department’s Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) Side Fund and the $3,600,474 remaining balance of the City of Turlock Police Department’s PERS Side Fund.

By using the $2,400,000 proceeds from the sale of the old 900 North Palm police station and adjacent public facilities and using $3,000,000 from the General Fund Reserve, the City will save about $615,367 per year in principle and interest payments. This means that, over the course of the next decade, Turlock will benefit from roughly $2,000,000 in interest savings alone. A large portion of these savings will be used to repay the General Fund Reserve as quickly as possible.

At current interest rates, this outstanding debt costs the City of Turlock 7.5% interest annually. The newly adopted budget takes money from our General Fund Reserve and strategically uses it to pay down this toxic debt. By comparison, this money would earn a miniscule quarter percent in interest if it sat idly in the General Fund Reserve. And this still leaves the General Fund Reserve balance at a healthy projection of $7,800,000 by the end of the year.

Additionally, PERS provides an option that allows the City to make a lump sum payment on our estimated PERS obligation for each of our PERS Groups (Police, Fire and Miscellaneous Groups). By making this lump sum payment at the beginning of the fiscal year, PERS will give a 3.5% discount on the City’s annual estimated PERS payment.

In addition to aggressively tackling our City’s debt and its outstanding payments, the Council has chosen to invest in some of our neglected areas of city services: from a “crack seal” contract to better preserve our roads, to the creation of a tree maintenance fund for low and fixed-income residents, to increasing the number of sidewalks and ramps that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). We continue to show that this Council is committed to investing in our roadways, sidewalks, and neighborhoods.

In the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Public Facilities, we are investing in some of our most-used recreation facilities by replacing the unreliable lighting at Pedretti Sports Complex and looking to increase two softball fields at Gemperle Sports Complex. These investments will enhance Turlock’s ability to generate revenue from increased use.

In the Department of Police Services, equipment for the re-instated Street Crimes Unit will be supplied, the creation of a crime analyst position will better assist patrol officers in their effort to proactively fight crime, and the addition of four dispatchers to the Emergency Communications Center will better assist all of our City’s departments in serving resident needs. Next month, the Council will take a historic vote to re-instate a two-dog K9 Unit to our police force.

In the Department of Fire Services, the allocation of “frontline funds” from Assembly Bill 172 will equip our department with much-needed tools and props for rescue training, additional generators, replacement firehose nozzles, and updated mobile radios. Additionally, this Council voted to accept a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant. If awarded to the City of Turlock later in the year, the grant would fund three new firefighter positions for two years before the Council pays for their continued support.

Overall, this budget places our City on a clear path to a balanced budget by the end of the year, while also restoring the most vital needs of our fire, police, parks, recreation, public facilities, and engineering departments. It also allows the City to avoid nearly $2 million in interest payments by paying down debt with the highest interest rate.

I ran for mayor based on two basic principles: that I would offer a “clear vision” for our City, and that this would be accomplished through “bold leadership.” This adopted budget is just that: clear and bold. It is this Council’s responsibility to make sure taxpayer funds are used wisely. By adopting this bold budget, we have done just that. 

Comments 10

  1. K. Briggs/Citizen of Turlock says:

    I would like to thank Gary Soiseth for his bold and innovative leadership style as the Mayor of Turlock. Gary has set forth a progressive partnership with local business and adheres to transparency in local government. I applaud Gary for his steadfastness and dedication in supporting the City of Turlock and look forward to his continued years of service to this community.
    For those who are critical of Gary, his door is always open to listen to your ideas in bettering this community but remember annonminity postings as “Guest” doesn’t resolve any complaints.

  2. Completely corrupt says:

    This is a kid Mayor who has no business spending down the city’s reserves to pay back the campaign promises he made to the police & fire unions. So Andre puts him in there & he goes against the majority of 5 former councils, who SAVED not spent money. Are you really a “conservative” or just talk like one.

  3. There's nothing bold about bankrupting Turlock says:

    Whomever you are Briggs, you obviously are drinking the Soiseith juice. This is someone who is not honest or truthful, and spending $$$ without any disregard for a future recession. I’ve heard from my neighbors who work for the City, he is micromanager, in every department. I give him six more months and then all of his supporters will join me in scratching their heads.

  4. More Bold Face Lies from Sosieth says:

    The first time he knocked on my door and I questioned him about his “service” in Afghanistan with the US Food and Ag dept, I knew he was the worst kind of politician. He’ll tell you whatever he thins will get your vote. That’s not bold,

  5. Spending money from your reserve is foolish says:

    Who raised this kid? We are in the Central Valley, if there is another recession (maybe all of the commentors should read a statewide newspaper), even Governor Brown is worried about a recession…but Turlock’s council minus Nascimento, the only one with any common sense, votes to spend more reserve monies, idiots! And you won’t support the bike race. Who are you all?

  6. andrew says:

    The k. Briggs guy is (Kelly Briggs a turlock police officer) so go figure why he is trying to put sosieth on a pedestal. He must of finally got a raise this year.

  7. More of the same says:

    Rich boy playing reindeer games while stomping out any independent business unless it’s a corporate box store.

    Gary help afghanis grow opium poppies. He’s “worked” at the usda who is behind the farm bill, which he also gets check due to his almonds that go overseas.
    I will not abdicate to more self enriching government employees.

  8. Jay says:

    The sale of war memorial/old city hall was supposed to buy down the cost of new tpd building financing.

    There’s a reason Kim Briggs is still a patrolman.

  9. Same Song, Different Verse says:

    Under these dire circumstances what does Richmond under the leadership of Mayor Tom Butt and long time city manager Bill Lindsay do? Aside of vowing to balance the budget in 2015 (after failing to do so since 2010), their solution is raiding Richmond’s rainy day fund of 7% reserves, while borrowing bond money which was earmarked for road repairs to pay for pension payments for city workers. Even these payments do not cover the costs of debt service leading to further red ink for the city.

  10. Jesus says:

    You guys are a bunch of idiots. I dont care where the money came from nor where it was previously alloted. Anyone who has done jr high math knows that it is financially better to payoff debt before even attempting to save. It’s SIMPLE math. Unless he is saving and getting an interest rate of return that is higher than the debt interest than he is doing what is better financially.

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