Last Saturday a campaign flyer for Mayor Soiseth was dropped off at our front door. It contained a statement that the City of Turlock’s general fund reserve (“rainy day fund”) under his leadership had “increased reserves from $6.9 million to over $11.0 million in three years.” This is mostly a true statement according to the City’s financial reports, however, this is not an accurate reflection of the health of the City’s financial position and is not the full story.
What was not mentioned is the City’s “rainy day fund” was $16.2 million June 2014, which provided a 6.4-month safety net based on annual general fund expenditures of $30.2 million. The projections for the current fiscal year show the reserve balance continuing to decline to the $6.7 million range June 2019 with spending climbing to $39.4 million resulting in the reduction of the City’s safety net to only 1.7 months.
During this five-year period, general fund spending will have increased 30.5 percent while the City’s general fund reserve balance declining 58.6 percent. Previous City Councils have been fiscally responsible and placed a high priority on maintaining a healthy “rainy day fund.” The current practice of deficit spending and balancing the City’s budget by utilizing reserve funds is fiscally irresponsible and not sustainable. Given the current trends, Turlock will have a difficult time navigating the next economic down turn without the benefit of sufficient reserves to mitigate possible revenue declines or unplanned emergency expenses.
The residents of Turlock need to hold their elected officials accountable when voting this November.
— Jim L. Theis, Turlock