A slowly improving economy has helped brighten Santa Rosa’s budget picture, but the ballooning cost of public pensions, the annexation of Roseland and covering Bennett Valley Golf Course’s debt all threaten the city’s financial recovery.
Marilyn Ponton, Rohnert Park’s normally low-key development services manager, laughed and spoke in exclamation points as she said, “We’re on the map! We’ve been discovered!”
The Friendly City’s economy, if not quite booming yet, is making loud noises as 2014 starts. The shift in fortune buttresses city leaders’ claims that they have been laying the groundwork for an economic recovery and further development.
The mayor of Santa Rosa has called for a financial audit of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department in the wake of what he called ‘disquieting’ revelations about the department’s budget.
Petaluma’s mid-year budget review again is one of those mixed-message scenarios. The city’s general fund reserves are projected to be about $1.4 million by the end of June, which is a far rosier projection than just a few years ago when the fund had been drained to a few thousand dollars.
Windsor’s budget is benefiting from an improving economy, with sales and property tax revenues rising steadily. A mid-year review conducted by the Town Council Wednesday shows property tax revenues up 13 percent compared with the same time last year. Sales taxes for the first quarter of this fiscal year were up 10 percent over the same period a year ago.
With barely $60,000 in reserves, Cloverdale needs to get its fiscal house in order, according to newly-named Mayor Joe Palla. In the coming year, he said the top priority should be the city’s budget.
Higher tax revenues from the improving economy combined with cost savings from employee concessions should put Santa Rosa in the black for the third year in a row. The city should end this fiscal year with $17.8 million in reserves, the first time in five years it has hit its goal of having at least 15 percent of its general fund set aside for emergencies.