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City Starts Budget Work
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With an eye toward keeping costs down and maintaining services, the City of Escalon has started its budget process for the 2015-2016 fiscal year.

City Manager Tammy Alcantor said she is working with department heads on finalizing their individual spending plans, which will then be put together in one package for presentation to the city council.

“The department budget requests are in,” Alcantor said, noting that Police Chief Mike Borges and Juston Collins of the Public Works Department have already submitted theirs.

And while Development Services Director Bill Carlson came on board earlier this year, Alcantor said she has worked on developing that specific department budget for this year, as Carlson was just getting settled in.

“Next year he will do it,” Alcantor said of Carlson taking over the budgeting duties.

Typically, police services has the highest expenditure in the budget, while other projects and debt service also account for a sizeable portion of the overall spending plan.

Alcantor said they did not bring in an ad hoc budget committee in this year, opting for a low-key approach to the budgeting process. The new fiscal year starts July 1 and plans are for a special council meeting at the end of the month.

“We have a budget workshop on June 30, we will do the budget workshop and the special council meeting to adopt it the same night,” Alcantor said of the special Tuesday night meeting. “Providing there’s not any major changes, we can move forward with adopting it.”

The process has been fairly straightforward, she added, with no specific instructions from city council members regarding priorities in spending or any suggested cuts.

“I think that we’re still holding steady, I know we are kind of short staffed, but we are still doing okay,” Alcantor said of city staff meeting the community needs in a cost-effective manner. “To have Bill (development services) and the (police) chief on, those are big reliefs, plus we were able to do the police department backfills.”

The department is finally back up to its full complement of officers, but will say goodbye later this year to longtime Police Services Manager Dorothy Vandagriff, who is retiring in August. Her replacement has already been brought on board and has been training for the last few months.

No other major changes are seen in staffing at this point, Alcantor said, and the budget doesn’t include any major projects.

Alcantor said the city is slowly paying down the costs for the city hall and police department facilities and has been able to utilize some reserve funds for that.

“Last year we ended up on the positive side,” she added of coming through the year with a surplus. “I would think 2014-15 would be the same; we budget so conservatively, we end up being better off than we could be.”

The Tuesday night, June 30 budget workshop will be held at City Hall starting at 6:30 p.m., followed by a special meeting at 7:30 p.m. including a public hearing to adopt the proposed budget.