At the Davis City Council meeting on April 30, the council presented the city budget for 2013-14, which begins July 1 and runs through June 30, 2014.
The city is met with many challenges, the most critical being the $2 million structural imbalance in the General Fund (GF). However, they foresee much improvement in the next few years with their proposed plan.
After lengthy consideration, the council has proposed that the GF — encompassed by property taxes, sales taxes, fines and interest — is the most viable source of revenue.
The GF expenditures are projected to increase by around $1,265,143 due to employee benefit costs and compensation, street maintenance needs, water cost increase and water conservation efforts.
In the budget, the city believes that the GF will decrease by $949,000 from sales tax, municipal services tax, property tax, state pass-thru revenue/subventions, developer project revenue and developer reimbursements.
“We have a council that is willing to take on these hard issues. I know we can get our arms against these things. In the long run, with these revenues versus expenditures, we’ll have to get more creative every year,” said City Manager Steve Pinkerton, at a community budget meeting at The Avid Reader on May 6.
Currently, the greatest expenditure challenges in the current and long-term are the CalPERS projects — a 50 percent increase over the next five years, the Pavement Condition Index being at danger level for city streets — the city plans to slowly fund the repairing of roads — and city water costs that are projected to increase by $2.1 million in the next five years.
Potential solutions are being implemented and continue to be brainstormed. For 2013-14, the GF will be providing funding for water and sewage, which will result in a net increase in utility costs of $700,000 and $2.3 million that will go toward street maintenance.
The Davis Fire Department will have a staffing level of 11 instead of 12 firefighters per shift — a change that would result in an additional $443,663 and $500,000 to be budgeted for water conservation measures and updating infrastructure.
The proposed budget was met with support and some speculation by the Davis community.
“The budget they proposed is pretty fairly balanced, and I think we’ll see savings down the line,” said Davis Progressive Business Exchange President Bob Bockwinkel.
Other ideas are being considered for the future.
“Let’s consider getting donor-directed funds set up here. I want to stress how profoundly interested the council is in long-term revenue work,” said Mayor Joe Krovoza at the community budget meeting.
Additionally, the city established a public-private partnership in March with techDAVIS, a nonprofit business association meant to further the connections between the city and the technology industry. The city and techDAVIS have equally shared funding a new municipal Chief Innovation Officer (CIO) in the hopes of improving the current budget, fostering technology-based economic development and, ultimately, generating more revenue for the city.
“As Davis strives to expand its technology sector, the newly created CIO position will significantly enhance the city’s economic development capabilities. Utilizing my strong ties to the San Francisco East Bay and the federal research labs, I am hopeful that the partnership between the city and techDAVIS will result in an opportunity to accelerate research, entrepreneurial activity and growth in technology businesses across Davis,” said Interim Managing Director of techDAVIS David Morris in a March 6 press release.
With the new proposals, along with speculation for new creative approaches to revenue accumulation, the City of Davis has yet to determine what budget path to take.
“With the latest changes we have had to function in, I feel confident that this community will survive and thrive,” Pinkerton said. “Change is always painful, but this budget in particular signals that we can manage and overcome.”
GABRIELLA HAMLETT can be reached at email@example.com.