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Council learns of loss tax revenue, benefit savings
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The Turlock City Council amended the current fiscal year budget Tuesday night to account for savings from employee health care costs and losses of property tax revenue, among other changes.

The first remittance of property taxes was less than expected and if the trend continues for the rest of the year, the city would see a reduction of about $380,000 in revenue.

The amended budget also addresses savings the city is reaping from changes to employees’ health care and retirement benefits. A switch of health care providers for city employees has resulted in a saving of $1 million.

“Much of the saving is driven by reductions in health care costs,” City Manager Roy Wasden said.

An adjustment in contributions to city employees’ retirement plans netted a savings of $1.4 million.

The amended 2012-13 budget was approved by the City Council 5-0.

At Tuesday’s meeting the City Council also:

• Voted to raise the late fee for garbage bills from $10 to $25 to bring it in line with fees for water and sewer.

• Heard an update from the city manager on a request to hold City Council meetings at off-site locations once a quarter. Wasden said city staff was in the preliminary stages of forming a plan, but that already early research has shown there could be some cost concerns for holding meetings at different locations around town. For example, Wasden said the meetings would have to have an audio recording, which could be an additional expense depending on the facilities chosen. Also any meetings held off-site would not be broadcast live because the expense would be “too costly” Wasden said.

• Finalized the plan to change City Council meeting times from 7 p.m. to 6 p.m. The first meeting at the new time will be April 9.

• Approved a loan with the Stanislaus County Affordable Housing Corp. for $270,025 to purchase a four-plex at 1060 Alpha Road that will eventually be used as affordable housing.

• Appointed six community members to the Community Block Development Grant selection committee.