In a 4-1 vote on Tuesday, Turlock City Council members approved the general fund budget, which reflects $32.4 million in spending, for the next fiscal year set to begin on July 1.
Councilwoman Amy Bublak dissented from the majority vote approving the upcoming year’s general fund budget because she said she disapproves of the decision to leave a blank line item within the City’s Fiscal Year 2014/15 general fund for the possible sales tax increase to support Turlock roadway repairs until the proposed measure is decided upon by the City’s residents in November. Bublak has publicly stated her position against sales tax increases, including most recently at the May 27 Council meeting where she voted against placing the half-cent sales tax increase on the November ballot.
Additionally, Bublak has repeatedly noted the City’s obligation to first complete labor negotiations with city employees before discussing possible tax increases, as its employee contracts are soon due for renewal.
On Tuesday, City Manager Roy Wasden confirmed that as labor negotiations are actively going forward at this time, the approved 2014/15 fiscal year general fund budget may need to be amended by the Council at a future meeting.
According to Wasden, the estimated $32.4 million in general fund spending for 2014/15, which he stated will go primarily to Public Safety as both the Police and Fire Departments will see slight increases in funding, grew by roughly $2 million from the current fiscal year due to the City seeing an incline in sales and property taxes.
Although the City hopes to achieve a balanced budget within the next three years, the 2014/15 budget is still projecting a deficit that Wasden says is mostly due to the City’s need for expensive capital equipment replacements, such as new computer systems and police vehicles. In addition to the one-time expenditure of $2.5 million into the Capital Equipment Replacement fund to cover the hefty costs tied to such purchases, the upcoming fiscal year’s budget includes $915,619 in deficit spending using the City’s reserves account, which will reflect approximately $13.3 million.
Marie Lorenzi, a senior accountant at the City of Turlock, said on Tuesday that city staff are continuing to work on developing a new budget cycle for future years’ budget proposals, as they hope the newly established two-year projections will help create more continuity between fiscal years.
“We’re interested in seeing how well we can look two years out. In recent years, we’ve had to focus on capacity growth without the same amount of resources,” said Lorenzi. “There’s been a lot in this budget’s process that we’ve not done in the past...We’ll continue the innovations we started developing in response to the economic challenges that started in 2009.”
To review the approved 2014/15 General Fund Budget, visit www.ci.turlock.ca.us.