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Council Approves $13M City Budget For 2017-18

By a unanimous 5-0 vote, members of the Escalon City Council approved the city’s 2017-18 fiscal year budget at their Monday night meeting.

The spending plan, which comes in at around $13 million in expenditures, shows $9.4 million in revenue. The General Fund portion, which serves as the ‘day to day’ operating budget has operating revenues projected at $3.79 million, with expenditures listed at $3.9 million. That would see the city at an operating deficit of $122,130. But with an estimated reserve of $2.2 million as of July 1, 2017 it would carry through to see the city with a reserve at the end of the 2017-18 fiscal year as well.

City Manager Tammy Alcantor provided an overview of the spending plan and pointed out that the budget adheres to the budgeting objectives previously agreed to by the council and herself.

The budget, she said, delivers a balanced operating city budget using minimal reserves, maintains the current level of service to the community, incorporates the fiscal year 2017-18 council-manager goals and keeps the city’s budget process open and easily understood.

Fiscal year goals set by the City Council and City Manager include establishing reserve funds for CalPERS unfunded liability, completing design of the new McHenry Avenue Domestic Lift Station, achieve a balanced and sustainable Operating Budget for General Fund and Enterprise Funds, analyze video of the McHenry sewer trunk line to determine proper maintenance, complete work on new test Well A and well design and complete a study for cost allocation and user fees including administration, development and building fees.

Alcantor said the budget plan before the council on Monday night included all of those goals.

“Council has directed staff to maintain a fiscally responsible approach to providing local services and to present the city budget in a straightforward and understandable manner,” Alcantor explained.

Several informational charts and graphs displayed during the budget presentation helped clarify various areas of the budget for attendees.

The city’s two largest sources of revenue, Alcantor added in her presentation, are property tax and sales tax, which make up nearly 69 percent of the general fund revenue. The largest expenditure in the general fund is in the police services area, accounting for about 53 percent of the total budget.

“The total General Fund revenue shows an increase from the adopted (2016-17) fiscal year budget of $299,560,” Alcantor said. “This is mostly due to the estimated increases for property tax, and construction permit fees.”

Council members said they were generally pleased with the budget and resident Angelo Blanco also commented during the public hearing that the information was provided in a very understandable way, offering kudos to the staff.

“In this case that means Tammy,” Mayor Jeff Laugero noted.

Though overall expenditures will be more than revenues, the city will be able to utilize some reserve funds and still maintain a healthy operating budget reserve of 33 percent at the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2018.

Carryover Capital Improvement Projects from 2016-17 will include Escalon Avenue work, Miller Road reconstruction, redesign with ADA ramp upgrades and the design of a new well.

New projects for fiscal year 2017-18 are scheduled to include Vine Avenue storm drainpipe improvement, design plans for widening South McHenry Avenue from Narcissus to Jones, industrial pond sludge removal and domestic percolation pond improvements, among others.

With a recommendation for approval by councilman Ed Alves, the budget was approved 5-0 and takes effect July 1.

“We’re pretty happy with the work of the staff,” said Laugero.