The city of Davis is looking to cut corners to balance its budget for the coming year.
Some city facilities could be cleaned less often due to a reduction in custodial services. Funding for the city attorney will probably be slashed, reducing time for legal analysis. And it may be easier to get away with parking violations as the city discusses eliminating one of its four parking enforcement officers.
The Davis City Council has spent several meetings identifying ways to revolve budget issues for 2009-2010.
On May 26, the city’s preliminary proposed budget was presented, making $3.3 million worth of cuts in the coming year.
The “All Funds” proposed budget for 2009-2010 totals $121.5 million, a reduction of $11.9 million, or 8.9 percent, from last year. The General Fund has also decreased by $3.2 million from the 2008-2009 year, now totaling $36.9 million.
Around 14 city positions would be cut, most of which are currently vacant. City officials are considering whether to eliminate overtime and services and banking on negotiations with the city’s employee bargaining groups.
The city was hoping to avoid a budget shortfall with major revenue sources like property taxes, but in the last six to eight months the revenue was below what was anticipated.
Federal stimulus money is set to fund bike paths and street rehabilitation through grants and loans. Assistant City Manager Paul Navazio said that the stimulus will help the city short term to avoid cutting and reducing spending, but in the long run structural budget issues will still remain.
“We’re trying to avoid a one-time cost containment,” said Navazio. “For next year we want to make more specific structural changes to the budget. We really need a sustainable, balanced budget, especially in light of the re-emergence of the state budget fiscal problems.“
City Manager Bill Emlen also stated his concern over the city’s budget.
“This year’s budget is challenging, and not just because of the reductions we must make now to present a balanced budget to City Council,” Emlen said in an e-mail. “There is still much uncertainty economically, and this has forced us to significantly downgrade revenue projections. We are still trying to gauge how low to go with our revenue forecasts, particularly with regards to sales and property taxes. We have had to add a number of contingencies to our budget to account for the unusual uncertainties that exist this year.“
Emlen did stress that Davis is not alone in its uncertain budget situation.
“We have been fortunate that our reductions to date are generally modest compared to what is being experienced in nearby cities and counties,” Emlen said. “At the same time, we recognize that additional reductions could become necessary should economic conditions deteriorate further and we have begun evaluating further structural and service level changes to the city organization should they become necessary.”
Assistant city manager Navazio believes citizens are already well informed about the budget situation, yet he says that the City Council is still striving to make sure the public is able to have a dialogue with the council before is implemented and approved.
Mayor Ruth Asmundson raised other concerns about the budget.“ There could perhaps an additional $1.3M if the state borrows 8 [percent] of the city’s share of property tax,” Asmundson said in an e-mail. “The hope is for the council to be able to approve its budget at the June 23 city council meeting. It’s a difficult problem to solve but Davis is not alone in this situation.“
The state itself faces a $23 to $25 billion budget shortfall for the coming year.
ANGELA SWARTZ can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.