City Manager Bob Lawton and the Turlock City Council have been working over the past several months to stabilize the City’s finances and on Tuesday they will consider a proposed budget that takes steps to stop the draining of the General Fund Reserves.
Expected General Fund expenses for FY2019-20 total $45,144,657, an increase of over $2.1 million from FY2018-19. Revenues are expected to total $40,746,734, leaving a deficit of $4,397,833.
The City Manager’s Recommended Budget for Fiscal year 2019-2020 proposes substantial reductions to correct the deficit — including laying off two employees and closing one of Turlock’s fire stations.
Among the recommendations in the City Manager’s budget is to defund 15 positions that are vacant or will be vacant by July 1, as well as eliminate two actively filled positions. The 17 positions are comprised of five from Police, five from Development Services, four from Parks and Recreation and three from Fire.
The proposed budget also includes reductions in customer service hours for Recreation as well as all Development Services Department – Planning, Building and Engineering. All of these areas are open to the public in the afternoon only.
While the proposed budget would stop deficit spending, it is not the answer to the City’s long-term financial problems, according to Lawton.
The proposed budget defers purchases of needed equipment for the Police and Fire Departments and computer purchases. It also curtails overtime expenses that would directly impact services to the public including closing one of the City’s four fire stations to insure the other three are fully staffed.
According to the City Manager, he held a voluntary “all hands meeting” on Friday to explain to City employees the impacts these cost reductions will have on employees and city services. In addition, information and notices have also been provided to the City’s six employee labor groups.
The proposed budget also assumes no wage increases, no future increases in retirement or healthcare costs.
“It is critical for the City to take care of the people’s business in a sustainable fiscally responsible manner,” said Lawton. “The budget I am proposing today is our best effort to reduce all non-essential expenses as well as minimizing impacts on current employees.”
The Turlock City Council is expected to consider the proposed budget at their next meeting, 6 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 156 S. Broadway.