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City Council to begin budget talks
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Poetry may kick-off Tuesday’s City Council meeting, but numbers will have the last word.

On Tuesday, the Turlock City Hall Gallery will host its first-ever public reception showcasing pieces from the 2014 publication of “Penumba” – the student-produced art and literary annual magazine of California State University, Stanislaus.

Beginning at 5 p.m., the City-held reception will commence with a guest author’s short reading of poems and stories published in this year’s Penumbra. Additionally, select pieces of the magazine’s student artwork will be exhibited at the City Hall Gallery, remaining on display not only during the reception, but for the next several months. Guests attending the reception will be given the opportunity to speak with the artists about their work, and purchase the 2014 edition of Penumbra for $10.

During their meeting immediately following the reception at 6 p.m., the Turlock City Council is scheduled with a number of financial decisions, as they begin reviewing the proposed General Fund budget for the upcoming Fiscal Year 2014-15. Providing a broadened review of Turlock’s future financial picture, City staff will also present the Council with a projected 2015-16 General Fund budget which, if decided upon, would allow the Council to consider adopting two year budgets starting in the 2015-16 fiscal year.

According to the General Fund overview prepared by City Manager Roy Wasden, the projections for Fiscal Year 2014-15 reflect an improving economic picture that, although significantly better than previous projections made in the recent past, are not yet sufficient for staff to propose a balanced budget.

Although decreased from previous years, nearly $1 million in deficit spending is included in the City’s proposed 2014-15 General Fund budget, in addition to another $850,000 in capital equipment purchases. 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.

“The deficit is primarily driven by budgeting for capital reserve replacement,” wrote Wasden in a staff report. “While the proposed budget recommends deficit spending, staff believes we will achieve a balanced budget over the next three fiscal years.”

During Tuesday’s meeting, the Council will review the proposed 2014-15 General Fund budget, including expenditures, health care costs, PERS costs, revenue projections, status of the General Fund Reserve, and impacts on City departments before making any changes to be included during the final preparation of the 2014-15 General Fund Budget.

In relation to City finances, the City Council will be presented with a report by Maryn Pitt, assistant to the city manager for Economic Development and Housing, addressing compensation for Council members, who currently receive a monthly stipend of $500 per month. Having remained unchanged since 1998, the Council salary could be lawfully increased to $994.50. Although the City Council will not be taking a vote on the issue at Tuesday’s meeting, the City believes the topic is timely and should be addressed as Council elections are scheduled for 2014 and 2016.

On Tuesday, the City Council will also:

- Delcare May 2014 as “Water Awareness Month.”

- Review the Carnegie Arts Center Annual Report.

- Adopt a revision to the City’s ADA Transition Plan, completed by Sally Swanson Architects, Inc.

- Approve the amended Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities Department part-time employees’ wage scale for Fiscal Year 2014-15.

- Enter labor negotiations with City administration and employee organizations during closed session.

The City Council will meet at 6 p.m. on Tuesday at City Hall, located at 156 S. Broadway.