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Budget Finalized, Deficits Covered
Escalon Budget 6-18
Finance Director and Interim City Manager Tammy Alcantor at her desk reviews the FY 2014-2015 city budget. The city approved the budget on June 2 using $200,000 in reserves to cover deficits in the General Fund. - photo by RICHARD PALOMA/ The Times

Taking in only $6,381,227 in revenues with an estimated $9,715,142 in expenditures, the City of Escalon approved its projected 2014-2015 annual budget at its June 2 City Council meeting.

The city plans to make up the balance of the funds to cover the projected expenses, over $3.3 million, from the reserves of relative funds.

The $3 million deficit is somewhat misleading according to Finance Director and Interim City Manager Tammy Alcantor explaining that deficit revenues were covered in other funds from previous collections.

“It’s not a true deficit per say, because some of those revenues have been collected in our Enterprise and Capital Improvement Funds,” said Alcantor. “So it appears as a deficit, but there’s already been money collected.”

The General Fund is the primary operating fund for Escalon and it only fell $379,026 shy of revenues collected. The city is projecting General Fund revenues of $3,128,347 with a total of $3,507,373 in expenditures.

The General Fund pays for community services such as; police services, community development, street maintenance and landscaping, animal control, weed abatement, park maintenance, city personnel and other operating expenses

Of the city’s General Fund, $1.3 million in property tax revenues and $800,000 in sales tax income composed 68 percent of the revenue.

Public safety expenses of $2,279,533 made up 65 percent of the expenditures.

The budget cited increases in some expenditures including an anticipated $9,600 increase in the employee retirement system, PERS.

Overall salaries of the General Fund have projected increase based on a full-time police chief in July around $100,000 and a city manager in the $125,000 annual range added in January 2015.

The city has also negotiated salary increases for city workers and added a community service officer to the police department.

With the successful obtaining of a COPS Grant, the city hopes to add a police officer position that will have 75 percent paid by the grant.

“We have the 25 percent budgeted for the officer,” Alcantor said.

Operating Budgets have decreased by approximately $23,000 with reductions for contract services that include temporary services, building inspector and planning based on unknown upcoming development projects with offsetting increasing for liability insurance, workers compensation insurance.

“Although we have to pull from our reserves, the account (reserve) still remains at 33 percent of our expenditures,” Alcantor said.

Capital outlay for the city in the upcoming year included the replacement of seven computers at City Hall and the police department along with a two server replacements. A new patrol vehicle has been allocated out of Supplemental Law Enforcement Service Fund (SLESF) funds.

Alcantor said in the Water, Sewer and Storm Funds, the operating expenditures exceed revenues and staff is currently working with Hansford Consulting in reviewing current user fees charged in an effort to maintain service and assets.

Big Capital Improvements for Escalon include replacing play apparatus at Hogan Park and adding a water source tank and a large rehabilitation project for McHenry Avenue.

“We are continuing with our conservative approach and living within our means,” said Alcantor. “While things have stepped up economically, we’re still being cautious and making sure steps we take that we’ll be able to support in the future.”