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Santa Rosa predicts $1.7 million upside for budget

By KEVIN McCALLUM
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Santa Rosa’s finances are “slightly improved” due to higher than expected sales tax revenues and concessions from employees, according to the city’s chief financial officer.

In his mid-year financial update to the Santa Rosa City Council, Lawrence Chiu said Tuesday the city is on track to end the year $1.7 million ahead of the budget plan.

The city expects $100,000 more revenue to flow into its general fund than originally expected. In addition, the city was able to negotiate $1 million more in concessions from employee groups, bringing the total to $2.4 million this budget year.

City Manager Kathy Millison stressed that the improved finances would not have been possible without cooperation from employee groups.

“The employees have stepped up and really put more money on the table than we initially anticipated getting, and that’s a very positive message,” Millison said.

The city’s 1,200 employees struck various deals last fall. Most agreed to pick up more of their healthcare costs. Many also agreed to continued furloughs. Firefighters agreed to spend most of their salary increases over the next two years toward paying more toward their pension.

But the financial picture was far from rosy. Sales taxes were just about the only revenue rising to the upside. Sales taxes are now projected to be $34.8 million for the year, $1.2 million higher than projected.

But most other revenue streams are expected to be off. Recreation revenues are tracking 7.3 percent below expectations. Permits fees and fines are coming in more slowly, as are vehicle license fees and property taxes, Chiu explained.

Despite the $1.2 million higher sales taxes, the total revenue is only expected to be $100,000 higher than expected, bringing the anticipated general fund to $116.9 million.

The overall $1.7 million improvement will allow the city to begin rebuilding its reserves, which fell to 10 percent of the general fund in 2009-2010, well below the council’s goal of 15 percent.

The $1.7 million improvement would give the city a cushion of 12.7 percent, Chiu said.

To stay ahead of increasing operating and employee costs, the city would need to trim another $5.7 million over the next four years to hit a 15 percent reserve level, Chiu said.

Additional long-term savings will need to be found to wean the city off of Measure P, the the eight-year, quarter-cent sales tax passed by voters in 2010.





6 Responses to “Santa Rosa predicts $1.7 million upside for budget”

  1. Scott P says:

    The Legislature of the State of Texas, operating under the biennial system, convenes its regular sessions at noon on the second Tuesday in January of odd-numbered years. The maximum duration of a regular session is 140 days.

    If the 2nd most populous state in the nation can get their business done in 140 days every two years, we’re getting the big shaft from the city of Santa Rosa, Sonoma County and the State of California.

    http://www.house.state.tx.us/resources/frequently-asked-questions/

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  2. Lets be Reasonable says:

    “To stay ahead of increasing operating and employee costs, the city would need to trim another $5.7 million over the next four years to hit a 15 percent reserve level, Chiu said.”
    .
    Except that there is this little line item about unknown increases to the General Fund from the Redevelopment Agency being disbanded. Why is this unknown? If you know how much Redevelopment money is being lost, you should be able to calculate how much will then go to the GF. Statewide, If I remember correctly, about 17% of non redevelopment area urban property tax goes to city general funds. Can anyone tell me what the numbers are for Sonoma County?

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  3. Money Grubber says:

    Ever notice that government always pretends that we actually need all their ideas to make themselves appear needed ?

    When I think of government, I think of the Federal ICE cops who murdered and shot one another yesterday in Southern California.

    Reminded me of the other cop murdering cop story of a couple weeks back near San Luis Obispo.

    Too much time on their hands causes government to do strange things.

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  4. Pete Davis says:

    Ahhh, now they can open the fund dam and begin to spend on those sorely needed social programs that the council supporters have been demanding.

    The council is in tall cotton again and they will have to take advantage of it. Cut programs, no way. Cut spending, won’t think of it. This is found money that must be spent or lost forever.

    Watch what the council does, not what they say.

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  5. brown act jack says:

    I have never understood the concept of furloughs saving money!
    When you don’t have employees work, and you don’t pay them, then you are deceiving your self!
    When you dock salary for non appearence, you have just delayed the work needed until the employee comes back!
    You have transferred the cost to a future date, and will have to pay the cost at that time, or not perform the work at all.
    In which case you may as well layoff the employees as they are not needed to do that work.

    A better solution is to just cut pay the necessary amount say 5% and have the employees perform the work for 5% less of salary

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  6. brown act jack says:

    They must be following the water agency way of thinking. If you don’t spend money you can set it aside as saved money, count it in the budget as saved money , and then you can say that we can cover the budget costs.
    See how it works, You get an revenue of 10 million, you spend 9 million.
    Now you show revenue income of 10 million and unspent funds of 1 million, so you have 11 million of income stream.

    And as you will be conserving money on the income stream each year in the future your conserved funds will be available to you even if the actual income stream drops.
    A penny saved is a penny earned, ad infinitum

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