Good news for city budget

By Tamara Steiner on July 2, 2018

Budget pie charts 2018The city could go for the next 14 months with no money coming in and still pay all its bills.  Fortunately, it doesn’t have to.

In his 2018-’19 budget presentation to the city council June 5,  finance manager Kevin Mizuno projects plenty of revenue to keep the city afloat plus finance a nice size capital improvement program with $101,970 without touching its reserve. It is an annually balanced budget.

“It’s mostly positive news,” Mizuno told the council. “The city looks forward to a pretty successful year.”

“Kevin tends to estimate revenues on the conservative side,” said Mayor Keith Haydon. “It pays off.”

At $13.5 million, the total budget for the coming fiscal year, which started July 1, is an 8 percent increase over last year due to a strong economy which is boosting motor vehicle license, property and sales tax revenues along with savings resulting from the anticipated attrition/retirement of some employees at top step of salary range and a one-time reduced pension expense. As veteran Tier 1 employees retire or leave, they are replaced by new hires at Tier 3 and pension expenses go down.

In January 2011, the city adopted a two tiered pension program—two years before the state enacted its Public Employees Pension Reform Act, and each tier has a lesser pension benefit plan. The city also established a Pension Stabilization Fund in 2016 as a hedge fund against the hits to its unfunded liabilities taken in the last two years caused by CalPERS investments falling short of a projected 7.5% return.

The General Fund and Capital Improvement Budgets represent 55 percent of the total budget. The other 45 percent is comprised of restricted and fiduciary funds including the Landscape Maintenance District and funding for The Grove Park.

The police department accounts for nearly half (49.4 percent) of the General Fund budget. This is slightly less than prior years which hovered around 50+ percent. The city successfully completed negotiations with its Police Officers Association and Mizuno expects the resulting contract will push the department’s total above 50 percent again.

The coming months will see some pretty hefty infrastructure improvements. By far the lion’s share will go to street paving projects aimed at bringing all city streets up to a Pavement Condition Index of 80. A brand new street would score a 100.

El Molino will see a major sewer improvement. The North Valley Playground will get new play equipment and shade structures and the Clayton Community Park lower fields will get a major turf overhaul.

In the Landscape Maintenance District, funds are budgeted to replace the downtown planters and to remove 18 dying eucalyptus trees in the open space near Regency and El Molino, along the Cardinet Trail, and Lydia Lane by the park.

The Council voted 4-0 to approve the budget. Vice Mayor Shuey was not at the meeting.

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