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Budget just one item on tap for busy Council meeting

POSTED June 27, 2009 3:18 p.m.
Turlockers who want to weigh in on the proposed city budget are advised to pack a snack for Tuesday’s Turlock City Council meeting, as a lengthy agenda will likely result in a marathon meeting.
A presentation on the 2008-2009 Teens in Action Program, four public hearings, and two scheduled matters will all be before the council on Tuesday. The request to adopt the 2009-2010 city budget is currently scheduled as the second to last agenda item.
The final budget proposal before the council is largely the same as discussed during the May 19 budget workshop meeting. As many as 23 city employees could lose their jobs and 10 percent of the non-personnel operating budget may be cut as the City of Turlock looks to close a projected $5.1 million General Fund budget deficit.
Turlock is projected to use $2.6 million of reserve funds this year to patch holes in the budget that could not be closed through cuts alone.
Several new budget reduction strategies, not agreed to by council on May 19, will be also be up for discussion on Tuesday to lessen expected deficits in non-General Fund areas.
One proposal calls for a renovation of the Arts Commission budget, which could include a $19,000 to $49,000 per year pay cut for the Arts Facilitator and a possible revocation of the Arts Facilitator’s benefits. Even with the lessened pay, the resolution before the council would pull all city funding for the position, requiring the resultant $74,000 to $44,000 salary to be funded by a third party, fundraising, or grants.
Other new proposals include a reduction in part-time fleet services staff, the restoration of one Staff Services Assistant to the Building and Safety Division through a reimbursement from the Small Equipment Replacement fund, a reshuffling of transportation employees to the Engineering Fund, and the retention of a Community Housing Rehab Specialist previously slated for dismissal.
The budget staff report warns that, despite the cuts, the Turlock budget could be as much as $1,049,000 behind projections due to proposed state withholding of previously allocated city tax revenue following the failure of Propositions 1A-1E in the May 19 Statewide Special Election. Additionally, the expected $301,000 budget savings through the postponement of Merit Pay Step increases and elimination of Management Leave may not be possible, as both require negotiations with labor unions.
Further negotiations with labor groups are ongoing, and could have a detrimental effect on the overall city budget.
Before the council tackles budget issues, it will consider a proposed $15 increase in all parking tickets.
The matter was continued from the May 27 council meeting due to an issue with noticing the Public Hearing. The hearing was initially scheduled for May 26, but was delayed for one day due to a lack of quorum.
The city is seeking the fine increase in response to 2008’s Senate Bill 1407, which assesses $9.50 per violation in fees payable to the state and county. Turlock also hopes to recoup some of the costs of processing each citation, which amounts to $1.65 charged by the city’s contracted processing agency, the City of Inglewood.
According to the Budget Workshop Agenda Packet, the Parking Citations fund was expected to enter the 2009-2010 fiscal year with a $101,000 deficit.
The council will also address a policy governing the naming of subdivision streets, consider an application for $1.5 million in Neighborhood Stabilization Program stimulus funds intended to acquire and rehabilitate foreclosed homes, and will hold a discussion on the confidentiality of matters discussed within closed session meetings.
The Turlock City Council will meet at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in the Yosemite Room of Turlock City Hall, located at 156 S. Broadway.
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

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