City approves $16 million 2008-2009 budget
The deficit included the city’s general fund taking on the cost of $53,200 that would normally come from the police and fire departments’ mitigation funds, $32,000 to cover the increase in dispatch costs for both departments and the increased cost of booking fees the police department paid to Lassen County. Other cost increases to the deficit included $2,833 for necessary repairs and maintenance for City Hall, and $5,000 for a part-time building inspector.
City Finance Director Robert Porfiri explained how these were costs he and his staff deemed necessary for the city to pay, in order to maintain basic needs. He then provided a list of areas where the city could make cuts and reorganizations in order to help offset some of the deficit costs, and a number of reorganizations and cuts were made.
Porfiri’s initial report also listed some of the organizations that would be restructured, including at least one layoff.
Porfiri said the housing grants and economic development administration would be restructured to be shared by the administrator’s office and the finance department. He also said the vacant associate planner position would not be filled.
Porfiri presented a report on the budget for the coming fiscal year. The appropriation limit, which limits city spending, the budget itself, and a resolution about budget processes and policies all passed. All resolutions passed unanimously, except for the budget; Kurt Bonham gave the only no vote.
“Due to State of California budget cuts to cities and increased costs of materials and supplies, current general fund revenues are not sufficient to pay for current expenditures,” Porfiri said in his report.
Porfiri said the switching of the fire and police vehicle replacement costs from the department’s respective mitigation funds to the general fund was so the funds could be given a chance to grow and create reserves that can be used for future vehicle purchases. The $32,000 allocated for increased dispatch fees was something Porfiri said was out of the city’s control.
“We have a contract for those services, and those services are going up,” Porfiri said. “So the city is getting charged more basically, for the same services.”
Other city funds
Porfiri told the council all other city enterprise funds did not change since presented at the budget workshops. Of those enterprise funds, the city’s water enterprise fund had proposed increased fees to help pay for new water meters and the replacement of waterlines. Based on the finance department’s projections, the water fund stands to lose more than $220,000 this year. Porfiri said the natural gas Fund was in a particularly dangerous situation, as the outstanding debt created by the fund will need to be refinanced in the next year or two. The gas fund stands to lose $457,487 for the upcoming fiscal year alone, as a difference between the fund’s expenses versus its income.
Porfiri said the airport, golf course and day care funds will all be in deficit spending in 2008-2009 as well, although he said the airport and golf course funds have assets to offset the deficit, while the day care does not.
City Councilmember Rod DeBoer said he wanted to see more progress involving the airport specifically, because of the numerous assets it has brought to the community. He asked Public Works Director Craig Platt how it would be possible to make the airport fund itself. Platt replied that the airport must be allowed to continue to be improved via the efforts of the airport’s and city’s staff.
Councilmember Doug Sayers asked Porfiri if he thought this was a good budget for this year, to which Porfiri said no, then explained his position.
“Not to influence any decisions, but what is wrong with it is the way we’re fixing the deficit,” Porfiri said. “It’s basically been what’s been done for the last four or five years. At one point, we have to address the issue of revenues. We are going to need more revenues to keep the services.”
Recently re-elected District 2 Supervisor Jim Chapman addressed the council during the public hearing held before the budget was approved. He commended the council on their ability to get a budget out early, but warned them to pass the budget with a plan to make revisions as the fiscal year progresses. He said because budget issues are such a mess at the state level, it would most likely be a while before the city would receive any financial help from officials in Sacramento. He told the council to not only be flexible with its budget, but to develop as many contingency plans as it could as a precaution to the lack of funding.
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