Friday, May 21, 2010

City staff gets creative in looking at budget deficit

As the July deadline approaches, the city council will take another look at the city's 2-year budget and consider ways to shore up the remaining budget deficit.

At the previous budget meeting in March, the council agreed to eliminate about 20 staff positions. They also pushed the discussion on the remaining $235,000 deficit for 2010-11 and $750,000 deficit in 2011-12 to tomorrow's meeting.

According to a staff report, some of the cuts being recommended are ones directly impacting city council members. The council is being asked to limit their yearly travel budget to $6000 per council member, leading to about $30,000 in savings.

Staff is also recommending the elimination of medical allowances for city council members beginning in 2011-12. Right now, only Peter Yao accepts medical coverage through his position on the council so it will be interesting to see how he reacts to the proposed cut. If approved, the benefits elimination will save the city $21,936.

The rest of the savings being proposed are not so clear.

A big chunk of the savings, about $286,000, comes from "anticipated benefit reductions" from city staff. However, since contract negotiations with staff union are still ongoing, there is no guarantee that these reductions will get approved by the unions.

Another $252,798 in savings comes from "shift of salaries from GF to RDA." This means a handful of employees will get their salary checks from the city's Redevelopment Agency rather than the General Fund. While this frees up money in the General Fund, there is no actual saving to the city in the grand scheme of things.

Other savings come from "revenue adjustments" and "overhead cost refinements" where staff anticipates greater revenue and reduced costs not previously accounted for. Those savings amount to about $351,000 over the next 2 years.

The council will meet Saturday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the city council chamber. The COURIER will have a report on the meeting in our Wednesday paper.

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