Mid-Year General Fund Budget reviewed by City Council, revenues down

March 18, 2016
Santa Paula News

Property and sales taxes are showing signs of recovery but franchise tax revenues are down the City Council learned at the March 7 meeting when they were presented with the General Fund Mid-Year Budget Report.

The council also approved a non-General Fund budget to be tapped on behalf of the city’s salt-based water softener buyback program.

Finance Director Sandy Easley presented the report which tracks revenues and expenditures as of the middle of the fiscal year and compares them to what was budgeted for same.

Of the General Fund’s $14.086 million budget, it was estimated that mid-year revenues would be $13.638 million, but there could be an end of year shortfall of $438,547 due to falling city income for services and other costs.

Property taxes are estimated to be $6.175910 million, about $173,000 more than estimated; sales taxes are also showing strong with almost $80,000 more in revenue than expected for the fiscal year. Franchise tax revenue is estimated to dip by about $13,000.

Department revenues took a big hit, $433,444 more than estimated by year’s end and other citywide revenue was almost $252,000 lower than expected during the fiscal year.

The Mid-Year General Fund Expense Summary showed the city was keeping costs for salaries, benefits, supplies/services/maintenance down so even with overtime costs almost $188,000 higher than anticipated expenses were still projected to be $388,551 at year’s end. 

Between the two Easley told the council the city is looking to have a shortfall of $43,149 when the books are closed on the fiscal year.

“We increased in our taxes but our department revenues are falling short at this time,” and the only reason Easley said salaries are under budget is “due to vacancies” being supplemented by overtime and consultants. 

Councilwoman Ginger Gherardi said there are two fee studies being conducted for the city and asked when the results would be presented to the council.

Easley said the city has ordered a development fee study that could be on the April 4 agenda. Expected in May 16 is an across-the-board fee study for city services that “should be full cost recovery” for work done, a study that also includes new fees.

A budget adjustment was requested from the Sewer Enterprise Fund to hire six part-time field technicians to go door-to-door as part of the city’s effort to remove all salt-based water softening units from the city.

The city — under the state water quality board gun to reduce chlorides in the water — has implemented an incentive plan to buyback the salt-based softeners banned by the city; the new program also offers supplemental funding to purchase new water softening service.

Gherardi also asked Easley about council goal-setting sessions for the upcoming budget, a chance for the community to weigh in on city spending and for the council to prioritize same.

Easley said arrangements for such sessions would be brought back to the council at a future date.

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