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Hughson council balances city budget
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After a second budget study workshop on Thursday, the Hughson City Council can finally rest easy knowing they have a balanced and healthy budget to work with for the 2010-2011 fiscal year.

“We made up the $70,000 gap,” said Thom Clark, Hughson interim city manager. “It is a balanced budget in the general fund and overall.”

Staff originally presented the council with a balanced budget at the first budget study workshop on Sept. 7 but council felt uncomfortable with the over estimates on expected incoming revenue. After those over estimates were brought down to a level of comfort for the council, the budget was short $70,000.

That $70,000 short fall was replaced with a reduction of professional services in the Legislative budget by $4,000, reduction of professional services and contract services costs in the administrative services/city clerk budget by $6,000 and a transfer of funds of $66,000 from the general fund to the redevelopment agency.

Another cost saving technique that staff has implemented into the budget are readjustments to the cost of the city’s water and sewer monitoring system to reflect actual costs in the Water Fixed Asset Replacement fund. The new system to help monitor the city’s wells and sewer systems was expected to come in around $250,000 but the actual costs was determined to be $150,000.

Staff also reduced the Park in Lieu Capital Fund from $400,000 to $288,000 to reflect the amount in the fund balance as council requested at their Sept. 7 budget workshop.

The budget has also become more solid as City of Hughson Finance Director Debbie Paul said she is receiving more hard numbers of their expected revenue instead of estimates from outside sources.

Council also suggested staff to look into other possible savings during the first budget workshop and on Thursday, staff came back with over 13 different ways to save funds.

The Hughson City Council agreed to reduce street sweeping from once a week to once every two weeks for a savings of $22,000 from the Special Fund Gas Tax 2107. Council also suggested staff look into working with the City of Turlock to use their Waste Water Treatment Plant to dispose of Hughson’s sludge for a potential savings of $80,000, and also look into raising the rental rates for the Community Senior Center and business license fees in the city.

Staff will also start using a two-tier system for the Public Employee Retirement System with new hires to have a less costly plan. This will require calculations from PERS, which can take some time, then a meet-and-confer session with the Operating Engineers Local No. 3 to complete. This may not allow any savings in the current fiscal year.

Other options discussed included closing the compressed natural gas fueling station, deleting the Community Senior Center Table and Chair Replacement fund and selling a Public Works utility truck, but there were no apparent benefits from those options, according to the council.

The council will approve the 2010-2011 City budget at their next council meeting on Sept. 27.

To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.