Mayor Steve DeBrum made it clear what he wants the city budget for the upcoming fiscal year starting July to reflect — the spending priorities of elected leaders while at the same time being balanced.
While the mayor lauded City Manager Tim Ogden and department heads for finding a way to fund priorities the council last month directed to be included in the proposed $40.1 million general fund operating budget that staff hadn’t previously included, he made it clear from his perspective that reserves don’t have to be touched to add the additional spending.
“I come from the real world,” DeBrum said Tuesday night, adding he has gone through the budget and has listed items that can be cut or trimmed back allowing reserves to remain intact.
“When I cut you won’t be happy,” the mayor said, “(but) we well have a balanced budget.”
Ogden made it clear staff would look at the budget again.
On Wednesday DeBrum noted “we’ve worked too hard for a number of years to have a balanced budget” to not have a spending plan for the fiscal year starting July 1 that doesn’t dip into reserves for planned spending. A balanced budget is defined as not spending more during the course of a fiscal year than what the city collects during the same fiscal year. A city can have an “unbalanced budget” and be fiscally solid even if they dip into reserves.
The city council has established a 25 percent reserve policy for the general fund. At the same time there are other reserves that operate more like a Christmas club account would to a degree where money is set aside to be tapped into to pay for projects down the road much like the city’s infrastructure oversizing reserve fund.
The changes Ogden presented to the council on Tuesday would have the city spending $322,000 more than it expects to take in through the general fund. That would draw the undesignated general fund reserve — which is different from the 25 percent general fund reserve — down from $598,875 to $392,515. It would take the original projected balance on June 30, 2019 of $108,672 — incoming revenue in excess of what the initial budget presented to the council anticipated spending on city services — down to $70,812.
Ogden’s proposal included funding the third and fourth additional police officers for the 2018-2019 fiscal year the council directed to be hired (in addition to two other officers) to be covered with $275,000 from the Measure M public safety tax.
It also included council directed additions such as:
*restoring $60,000 to police overtime for a total of $980,000.
*restoring $150,000 to fire overtime for a total of $612,000.
*$122,000 for Parks & Recreation employees to help move stalled projects forward.
*$35,000 to pay for a November ballot measure increasing the city hotel room tax.
*$50,000 for a storm water study.
*$50,000 for a government building facility study.
$10,000 for project management training.
Budget reductions included delaying the last $50,000 payment for the Costco incentive deal to 2020, defunding the $105,000 Civic Center turf replacement project and re-evaluating it in 2020, purchasing three vehicles using Supplemental Law Enforcement funding, and accounting for $75,000 in additional revenue expected from Manteca Unified for a school resource officer among other things.
The budget will also include a plan to proceed with construction of the fifth fire station at Atherton Drive and Woodward Avenue that will require a development agreement fund loan to cover the existing gap in the $4.5 million cost.
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