Tuesday, Feb, 3, 2009 • City Council adopts mid-year budget review

City Finance Director Robert Porfiri presented a mid-year budget review to the Susanville City Council at its Jan. 21 meeting.

Porfiri’s report detailed all of the city’s expenses and revenue streams so far for the current fiscal year ending in June.

“There’s no reason to panic,” Porfiri said. “We want to continue to encourage everybody to be fiscally responsible, and that means spend within your means, which is what we’re doing.”

Porfiri explained through the saving efforts of the city and its staff, the city’s general fund has grown from a little more than $200,000 in June of 2004 to roughly $1.2 million in June 2008.

He explained the reason the city’s cash reserve had grown over the last few years is because of several money saving measures the city has taken. While some of the funds, such as the daycare and airport funds have continued to lose money, other funds, like the city’s water funds, have continued to do well.

As far as expenditures and revenue, Porfiri said the largest amount the city has been collecting in revenue has come from property taxes, while its largest expenditure has been on public safety.

Put simply, 67 percent of the general fund goes to public safety, with the other 33 percent going to everything else.

Porfiri also provided numbers dealing with Lassen County’s labor force. As of Jan. 21, the county’s labor force consisted of about 14,920 people, with 13,570 employed, with 1,350 unemployed. He said the county’s unemployment rate was currently about 9.9 percent, while the state average was currently 8.4 percent.

“The city of Susanville is not immune to this recession,” Porfiri said. “As your finance person, I would suggest that we hold onto our cash reserves and be very frugal with our expenses.”

Mayor Kurt Bonham how long it would take to spend the city’s $1.2 million cash balance without getting any more funds from the state or federal level, Porfiri estimated that it would take approximately three months before it was gone.

Bonham said he was concerned with the city’s self-sufficiency because of the numerous problems with the state’s budget and how it was going to start affecting local economies in the coming months.

“If the state suspends payments to the local governments, that means whatever reserves we have is all we get to spend,” Bonham said. “Except for that which isn’t controlled locally.”

Bonham also said the city has come a long way since Porfiri has come on board.

“The state is in some real dire straights,” Bonham said. “Maybe the state needs to start listening to what local communities have been doing.”