WatchSonoma Watch

Santa Rosa council to decide how to spend 9% more money



Santa Rosa’s City Council begins the first of two in-depth budget sessions Tuesday to decide how to spend about 9 percent

Santa Rosa City Council Chambers (PD File)

Santa Rosa City Council Chambers (PD File)

more in the coming year.

The budget is set to increase to $339.9 million under the draft proposed by City Manager Kathy Millison. The current budget is $311.5 million.

The increased spending after years of budget austerity is made possible in part by increases in tax collections and permit fees.

“We’re in what I characterize as a fiscal recovery,” Millison said. “But we still have a lot of challenges.”

Sales, property and other taxes are tracking $2.1 million higher than expected this year, according to Chief Financial Officer Lawrence Chiu. The city also expects about $500,000 more in permit fees, fines and charges. Revenues are expected to rise 2 percent. The city general fund, the pot of money over which the City Council has the most control, is expected to see a 5.6 percent spending bump, from $116.9 million to $123.4 million.

That includes an 8 percent increase to the parks and recreation departmentand a 3 percent increase to the police department, including a $700,000 bump to get the department closer to the level prescribed by Measure O, the voter-approved sales tax measure.

The fire department’s operating budget is going up by about 5 percent next year, but because of the way it accounts for the one-time federal grant it received this year, its overall budget is expected to go down 4 percent.

General fund revenues are expected to come in at $125.5 million next year, $2.1 million higher than expenses. That means the city should be able to keep $20.3 million in reserve, or about 16.4 percent of expenses. The council’s goal is 15 percent.

The utilities department budget is set to increase 12 percent to $136.5 million, reflecting the higher cost of water purchases, the addition of several new positions and nearly $14 million more for upgrades to the city’s water and sewer


Tuesday, beginning at noon, the City Council will hear presentations from recreation and parks, police and fire, as well as administrative departments. That will be followed on May 14 by economic development and housing, community development, information technology, transportation and public works and utilities.

Formal budget hearings take place in June.

You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 521-5207 or kevin.mccallum@pressdemocrat.com.

10 Responses to “Santa Rosa council to decide how to spend 9% more money”

  1. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    I say apply it to the buses and change the routes back to every 30 minutes that they were. I know transit doesn’t like to be dependent on the general fund but they need to get over it and use money that is available.

    We bus riders need 30 minute buses for commuting ESPECIALLY FOR PEAK HOURS.

    Another complaint I have is that BOTH Sonoma Ave and Montgomery Drive are both being worked on between downtown and Montgomery Village at the same time period. Whoever made THAT decision has a screw loose.

  2. Paul says:

    Remember, our city council (under, I believe, Sawyer, Susie Supervisor and others) took about twelve million in savings the city had and blew it on their pet projects. Can anyone tell me what those projects are/were, and what positive change they made by spending our rainy day money??
    Of course you can’t. But they did it.
    That’s our problem, we forget. Also, the faces change, and we forget who did the deed.

  3. Joe says:

    Time to spend like drunken sailors! What happened to save for the FUTURE!

  4. Fiscal Conservative says:

    What no money added for pensions? Cut our taxes.

  5. Kathy Robler says:

    What ever happened to that rainy day fund? The only thing politicians think about is spending money. They never think in terms of saving money or refunds to the taxpayers who pay the bills.

  6. Dan Drummond Sr says:

    I hope they don’t forget about needed road repairs and expanded bus hours.

  7. Just Me says:

    I can think of lots of ways but why not just SAVE IT?

    If you really need to spend it, restore the benefits you’ve ripped off the employees.

    If you really need to spend it, reduce the fees for all the permits and licenses you require.

    If you really need to spend it, reduce the cost of hosting classes at the Rec & Parks.

    If you really need to spend it, reduce our water and sewer rates.

    Shall I go on?

  8. Cedric Pigg says:

    Exactly which taxes do you think go to cities? Just curious if you understand what you’re really saying here.

  9. GAJ says:

    How about paying off some debt.

    Government is insane; give them $1.00 and they spend $1.50.

  10. Jean Anderson says:

    How about sending a refund to all the taxpayers who’ve been ripped off with high taxes for the past 25 years?