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City Budget Adoption Scheduled Monday
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The picture isn't pleasing, but Escalon City Council members are expected to adopt the 2010-2011 city budget at their Monday, June 21 meeting, with the spending plan coming in at roughly $3.4 million.

That includes a deficit of about $400,000 and interim City Manager Henry Hesling said some final fine-tuning is likely before the council votes on the plan. Hesling said like many cities around the region, Escalon has seen a decrease in sales tax revenue while operating costs have continued to rise. Figuring out the best way to do more with less, he said, is the dilemma facing the council.

Looking ahead, past the coming fiscal year, Hesling said a goal is to 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. The thorough, methodical study should avoid what Hesling termed 'knee jerk' reactions that could result in loss of personnel or services. Council members and city officials, he said, want to avoid those cuts if at all possible.

Meanwhile, retired City Planner Duane Peterson continues to serve the city on a one day a week basis, in the Coley Avenue office on Wednesdays. He retired in December but agreed to stay on as a very limited part-time employee, to oversee the permit process and handle some of the paperwork load.

"The arrangement is working fine," Peterson said. "There are some new development applications coming in, I'm cleaning up requirements for the housing element update, I'm also working on gathering information to turn in for an application (for the city) to become a member of the San Joaquin County Enterprise Zone."

Because his position was not formally refilled, there was cost savings in that area and funding available to have Peterson retained on the limited basis. He's pleased to keep a hand in helping move the city forward, though growth remains slow.

Building permits for the new fiscal year can be pulled starting July 1 and Peterson said there are some being lined up, specifically for some additional building in the Westwood Country subdivision.

"Just because of the economy, it is slow, but we've always been slow growth" he pointed out. "There's things to keep me busy."