When the City of Turlock began considering the 2010-2011 budget earlier this year, the city faced a budget deficit in excess of $5 million. Through a series of budget cuts, that deficit dropped to $3.6 million in the adopted budget.
On Tuesday, Turlock’s budget deficit could drop to $2.7 million, should the Turlock City Council agree to $864,319 in concessions made by city unions.
The concessions follow a 2009 agreement in which all city bargaining units agreed to an effective 5 percent pay cut through an increased employee contribution to medical insurance or retirement costs. At that time, the city agreed not to request any further concessions until the close of the agreement in June 2011.
Given the dire budget situation, however, employee groups realized the City of Turlock was in an unsustainable financial situation and agreed to discuss further cutbacks.
“It’s to the credit of all the employee groups that they realized we’ve got to take another bite at the deficit and they all were willing to work and give meaningful concessions to help us make savings,” said City Manager Roy Wasden. “Our hope is to continue to take chunks like this every year until we get balanced in our budget.”
The new round of concessions represents an effective 5 percent or greater reduction in salary and or benefits for each bargaining unit, in addition to the still-in-place 5 percent cut from 2009.
Under the agreement, the Turlock Association of Police Officers will give up holiday buy-out, and would settle a $250,000 suit against the city over unjust retiree health insurance compensation. The Turlock Firefighters Local 2434 won a similar lawsuit against the city in recent years.
Most other bargaining units will employ a combination of reduced city contributions to retiree health care, suspended sellback of vacation and or sick days, elimination of professional development spending, and increased employee contributions to health care costs. The Turlock City Employees Association will also reduce one employee to 32 hours a week, and all members will undergo 16 furlough hours this year.
While the concessions are a boon to a sustainable Turlock budget, this likely won’t be the last time the city reexamines its budget this year, Wasden said.
Turlock’s streetlight program remains a particular area of concern, with more than $600,000 coming from the General Fund this year alone just to keep the lamps lit. That program was previously funded through state transportation funds, which have greatly diminished in the wake of the State of California’s own ongoing budget crisis.
The City of Turlock is continuing to investigate potential funding sources for the city’s streetlights, including grant funding and a possible solution through the Stanislaus County Council of Governments.
“We’re looking and working on those things,” Wasden said.
On Tuesday, the Turlock City Council is also expected to:
· Award a $2.6 million bid for Westside Industrial Specific Plan Infrastructure Improvements to George Reed, Inc. of Modesto. George Reed, Inc. was the lowest of seven qualified bidders, with J&M, Inc. placing the highest bid at $3.9 million.
The project would install sanitary sewer and domestic water infrastructure in the area of West Main Street, Washington Road and Fulkerth Road. The project is expected to help spur development in the WISP business park, and would also reconstruct the roads to facilitate anticipated heavier truck traffic.
The project would be funded by a combination of Redevelopment Agency bond proceeds and water bond proceeds.
· Accept the fiscal year 2009-2010 Housing Program Services Division Annual Report.
· Hold a moment of silence in honor of Shawn Barlow, the former Turlock City Council candidate and Stanislaus County deputy district attorney who died unexpectedly at age 40 on Sunday.
· Issue a proclamation in recognition of Emanuel Medical Center’s Women’s Cancer Awareness Week, from Oct. 11 to Oct. 17.
· Hear a staff update on the Fire Services Open House, scheduled for Oct. 3.
· Hear a staff update on sign code enforcement.
The Turlock City Council will meet at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in the Yosemite Room of Turlock City Hall, 156 S. Broadway.
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail email@example.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.