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Council Approves Budget For 2019-2020 Fiscal Year
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Escalon has a budget for the next fiscal year.

In a busy session on June 17, Escalon City Council members hosted a budget workshop prior to the regular council meeting, then approved the spending plan by a 5-0 vote during the meeting.

A public hearing on the budget proposal was the final item on the evening’s agenda just prior to council comments, and the combined annual budget for fiscal year 2019-2020 came in at $15,692,806.

Goals for the fiscal year, set by the City Council and City Manager as the budget discussions began, include maintenance on the McHenry Sewer Line, construction of a new well, 1A, a wastewater treatment plant evaluation, exploring areas of funding for SSJID surface water connection, exploring revenue generation for police department staffing and continued review of the sign ordinance.

Officials said they hope to make significant progress in all those areas during the course of the fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2019 and runs through June 30, 2020.

For the coming fiscal year, the city is projecting over $11.6 million in revenues, with a total of $15.7 million in expenditures.

“This results in our expenditures exceeding our revenues … the balance of the funds needed to cover the projected expenses will come from the Reserves of relative funds,” noted City Manager Tammy Alcantor in her budget message.

She added that the city typically plans for the ‘worst case scenario’ when budgeting, overestimating costs and underestimating revenues, so that usually the deficit is not as large as initially projected. The council has also established a healthy reserve, she said, that allows for the city to cover the deficit.

As far as revenues, nearly 42 percent of the money coming in is through charges for services, while just over 35 percent is anticipated from taxes including sales tax, property tax and gas tax.

Expenditures show capital projects leading the way at just over 45 percent of the funds going out, $7.1 million, with a $4.4 million general fund, accounting for about 28 percent of the overall expenditures.

Within the general fund, the bulk of the expenditures are in public safety, which accounts for just under 60 percent, at $2.78 million.

“The budget does include the hiring of two new police offices, one in July and one in January,” Alcantor explained.

The city is anticipating starting the new fiscal year with a reserve balance of $3.1 million and, with deficit spending, is looking at a reserve of $2.8 million by next June.

“Our reserves are still pretty healthy,” Alcantor said. “Since we budget so conservatively, when it comes to actual costs we usually come in at a better point.”

She added that the budget workshop was fairly well attended with some comments and questions from the audience, and a solid dialogue between city leaders and the public, allowing for a “good understanding” of the spending plan for those in attendance.

The budget also includes a small increase in the COLA, Cost Of Living Adjustment, benefit for employees and includes a projected rise in both property and sales tax revenue. Property taxes are seeing a 3.5 percent increase while the city is projecting a 17 percent increase in sales tax revenue.

“We’re also carrying over a capital improvement project at the Community Center, where we will be re-paving the parking lot,” Alcantor said. “It will be unusable for about two weeks so that is something we still need to coordinate.”

Also, the lift station work on McHenry is in process with a hoped for completion by the end of July.

With approval of the budget and the July 4 holiday looming, council members also agreed to ‘go dark’ for the Monday, July 1 meeting unless a pressing issue arises. The next session would be Monday, July 15 at 7 p.m. in the council chambers on McHenry.