An improving economy is projected within the City of Turlock's proposed 2014-15 General Fund budget, which – despite reflecting $1 million in deficit spending – is a step towards a balanced budget in the near future.
Significantly better than previous projections in recent years, the City’s decreased deficit in Fiscal Year 2014-15 is primarily driven by budgeting for capital reserve replacement, says City Manager Roy Wasden.
“Although the budget is not balanced, projections show the budget could be balanced in the next three years,” said Wasden, as he reviewed the proposed budget alongside the Turlock City Council on Tuesday.
In addition to closely monitoring the City’s reserve balance, City staff provided a broadened review of Turlock’s future financial picture, as new software and tools made it possible for staff members to make projections two years at a time – allowing a new method of financial planning for the City of Turlock.
“It was done a little different this year,” said Wasden, explaining the City’s new budgeting software. “Being able to make projections for two years at a time was very time efficient for us and staff, and very doable.”
If decided upon, the new software would allow the Council to begin considering adopting two year budgets starting in the 2015-16 fiscal year.
Despite increased costs in employee retirement rate structures and workers compensation rates, stabilized costs in healthcare plans, and overall revenue decreases in Development Services, the 2014-15 General Fund’s revenue projections reflect growth of over $1 million based primarily on increasing property values, and increasing sales tax.
According to Wasden, City staff members are optimistic that the City will continue to see healthy economic growth that is also sustainable based on the employment base increases seen in Turlock.
In addition to the nearly $1 million in deficit spending included in the City’s proposed 2014-15 General Fund budget, another $850,000 is estimated in capital equipment purchases, as the City prepares for expensive computer replacement costs. According to the City’s projections, the additional $1 million in spending will lower the overall General Fund Reserve to about $13.35 million, with about $8.95 million in available reserves, at the adoption of the Fiscal Year 2014-15 budget.
On Tuesday, the City Council also approved the Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities Department’s part time employee wage scale for the upcoming year, as California’s minimum wage increase to $9 per hour has lead the City to increase its own pay in order to remain competitive, says Parks Superintendent Erik Schulze.
With the minimum wage increase, the Parks and Recreation Department will increase all current part time employees’ wages by $1 per hour. According to Schulze, the proposed wage increase will be funded through a variety of sources including program fees, facility rental fees, grant funding, property assessments and the General Fund. The increase is set to take effect on June 1.
To view the detailed proposed Fiscal Year 2014-15 General Fund Budget, visit www.ci.turlock.ca.us.