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Budget Sees Deficit
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Like many of their counterpart cities, Escalon isn't looking at a very rosy picture in terms of the 2010-2011 budget.

It may not be as bad as some, but it's bad enough to start looking at possible cuts in services.

Before they go that route, however, interim City Manager Henry Hesling said they will complete a thorough 'financial strategy' for the city, looking at the existing programs and services and determining the far-reaching impacts of any cuts before wielding the budget axe.

"We have a shortfall, the projected revenues are down and our expenditures will be just a little less than the last year," Hesling said. "We may have to tighten the belt even more."

City council members met in a budget workshop session Thursday, May 27, getting their first good look at the proposed spending plan. Figures show an estimated revenue stream of about $3 million and expenditures topping out at around $3.4 million, with a deficit of about $400,000 facing the city.

"On top of that, we have some debt service on the Civic Center and that comes out of the general fund," Hesling noted.

A handful of residents turned out for the workshop session as well, but the spending plan will undergo some revisions before Hesling offers the proposal for council consideration at the Monday, June 21 council meeting. The new budget year begins July 1.

"What we're going to try to do, over the next couple of months, is do an overall financial strategy for the city, we know we have a deficit going in," Hesling explained.

What the council doesn't want to do, he added, is rush headlong into making cuts in personnel and services or raising fees as a 'knee jerk' reaction to the deficit.

Instead, the thorough, methodical study will determine how best to go about closing the budget gap.

"Before we cut hours here or raise fees there, we want to see what is the overall effect," Hesling said.

"I wish it was better," he added of the financial picture. "They're (council members) going to have to use some money out of the reserves."

By developing the financial strategy, however, he's hopeful the hit on the city's reserve fund - and any major cuts - can be limited.