At the May 17 Davis City Council meeting, the council received the proposed budget as well as proposed cuts to help address the budget deficit. The city manager presented the fiscal year 2011-12 Preliminary Budget. From the presentation, they found that the city is facing a $700,000 budget deficit, despite cutting over $6 million dollars over the last three years.
“While we do not know exactly what the council will decide to do, the proposed budget includes a set of cuts to close the deficit – about $900,000 – to allow the council to reallocate funds to priority areas [such as] transportation and facilities,” said Kelly Stachowicz, deputy city manager, in an e-mail.
In an effort to balance the budget, the plan calls for reviewing the general fund deficit, redirecting additional funding in support of priority needs, such as infrastructure investments and deferred maintenance.
“We are trying to fully fund some of our infrastructure for roads because we are losing a lot of state and federal funding and from projections it looks like we will be losing more,” said Rochelle Swanson, mayor pro tempore. “So while we are trying to also preserve our services, we want to make sure that we are also building into our budget funds that will still take care of infrastructure.”
This is why uncertainties about the state and federal budgets will require Davis to have contingency plans in place in case of a shortfall.
“The overall goal is to do the best we can, to live within our means and to preserve services,” Swanson said.
The plan also calls for creating a strategy to mitigate impacts in projected increases in employee benefit costs. The plan also called for a scheduled renewal of the Parks Maintenance Tax, subject to voter approval.
“We need to evaluate where we need to make cuts to core area services and non-core area services just as we have done over the last four years, we’ll find the means to close this gap, and close it in a way that takes care of the ongoing fiscal deficit,” said Councilmember Stephen Souza.
“The only areas we have left where we can find revenues to makeup this shortfall are in programs, so we are going to evaluate all the programs we have,” Souza said.
According to Souza, some of the suggestions that were put forward were to close the city swimming pool, eliminate some of the support for economic development and to reduce public safety. Souza said he and the majority of the council did not receive the last suggestion well.
“By public safety, I mean reduce the number of officers on the street, and I am not for that suggestion and there wasn’t a councilmember that was for that suggestion, so we have to find another means rather than reduce public safety,” Souza said. “For me I think the core area of service that we provide our citizens is public safety.”
The council has a budget workshop planned for May 31 and a further discussion at their June 7 council meeting. According to Stachowicz, the plan is for the council to adopt a budget on June 21.
ANNABEL SANDHU can be reached at email@example.com.