What: City Council meeting
When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Community Chambers, City Hall, 23 Russell Blvd.
Enjoy the twinkling lights downtown at night? The same level of public safety? Parks maintenance? That nice woman who answers your questions at the city clerk’s office?
Better vote for Measure O, the city’s proposed half-percent sales tax increase and extension of the existing half-percent sales tax to 2020.
The city released a report Thursday of revised budget figures and a panoply of potential places the City Council could cut services and positions — including $332,410 in total cuts to police and fire budgets — in a bid to get council orders on where to cut if Measure O doesn’t pass and let the public know exactly what they might be missing from city government.
“You’ve got to disclose as much as you can before the city election,” City Manager Steve Pinkerton said.
The numbers have changed since December, becoming a hair’s breadth rosier for the city: Instead of a $5.1 million structural deficit, increased revenues place the deficit at $4.99 million. Yet, the proposed menus of cuts offered as recommendations by the city only cover $1.16 million of the deficit hole, according to a city staff report. A $3.8 million hole would still remain even if the council follows the spirit of the city’s platter of cuts.
“This was to get feedback,” Pinkerton said. “What direction should we take?”
There are two general paths the council can take. One broad path would impose cuts across the board — estimated in February as a 12 percent cut — while another would hold public safety harmless and dig deeper to the tune of 25 percent into other parts of the city operation.
If Measure O passes, the estimate is that it will give the city an additional $3.61 million in revenue to add to a general 2.8 percent increase in total sales tax receipts during the last nine years.
The council’s overarching plan is to No 1: push for additional money with some kind of parcel tax at the November general election connected to infrastructure needs like crumbling roads. And No. 2: Move down an estimated five or 10 year road to getting high technology and manufacturing businesses into town with a business park.
Pinkerton said while revenues are up slightly, so are expenses the report lists like health care and pension costs for employees, plus costs for water use at city parks because of the dry winter.
The layout of the potential cuts goes department by department, in most cases reducing positions targeted to part-time, and in some cases removing them entirely. The assistant police chief position is one.
“It’s not the final decision,” Pinkerton said. “It’s giving various options.”
Meanwhile, the city has been pleading its case to civic groups and the public at large through utility bill budget explanations. In them, the city points out it has already cut $11 million from the general fund in the last five years and reduced its workforce by 22 percent.
— Reach Dave Ryan at [email protected] or call 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @davewritesnews