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Lathrop leaders reviewing budget plan today at 4

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POSTED June 4, 2013 1:36 a.m.

LATHROP — It’s that time of year again.

And by the end of the day today, the City of Lathrop could have an unofficial operating budget for the 2013/14 fiscal year.

Starting at 4 p.m. at City Hall, the Lathrop City Council will start combing through the draft city budget, department-by-department, approving the individual sections as they move towards an overall consensus.

Lathrop’s financial staff starting putting the budget together months ago. They took the first step towards an approved budget last week when the Measure C Oversight Committee – in its first meeting – approved its independent budget that will add four new police officers by the end of the year and keep the Lathrop Manteca Fire Department flush with firefighters while a Federal grant keeps staffing levels at their current level.

But the process isn’t always a smooth one.

In order to reach a balanced budget the last two years, the city had to make further cuts to personnel - including reducing staff in the information technology department and eliminating a variety of assistant positions – after extreme shortfalls in the late 2000’s decimated City Hall.

The budget workshop sessions have been one tool in a number employed by the council to make sure that the general fund reserves built up over the course of the last decade - almost $6 million two years ago - have remained intact while being able to offer the same level of services to residents.

And this year’s session will likely include sections on adding staff instead of eliminating it - or at least condensing departments and rearranging the way that city hall operates.

Over the course of the last year Lathrop’s City Engineer left for a different position, and the city promoted from within when its finance director left over a year ago. Just in the last few months did the city find a replacement for Public Works Director Steve Salvatore, who was promoted to City Manager after Cary Keaten left Lathrop to take a job as the director of the Solano Irrigation District.

The sessions are expected to last two days, but have been known to wrap up in one.

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