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Proposed Budget Balanced
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In an easy to read format and with clear, concise numbers and goals, the Escalon City Council got its first in depth look at the proposed 2013-2014 fiscal year budget on Tuesday.

A special budget workshop session was hosted in the council chambers on McHenry Avenue at 5 p.m. Tuesday, May 28. Aside from four of the five council members – councilman Danny Fox was unable to attend – the only people attending the session were City Manager John Abrew, Police Chief Milt Medeiros and City Finance Director Tammy Alcantor, who provided an overview of the spending plan. There were no city residents on hand, no comments from the floor regarding the proposal.

Mayor Ed Alves praised the work of Alcantor in putting the budget in easy to understand terms, with charts and graphs utilized to help identify where the city spends its money and where it gets its money.

The money coming in, Alcantor said, is slowly picking up, to the point where the city is getting closer to the goal of a balanced budget, not having to dip into reserves to stay in the black.

For 2013-2014, Alcantor said the bulk of revenue is expected to come from property tax, estimated at $1,278,000, for just over 43 percent of the revenue coming in. Retail sales tax will account for more than 26 percent ($779,000). As is typical, the largest expenditure in the budget is for public safety, which takes up just over 55 percent of the budget, at a cost of $1,905,645. Public Works ($443,000) accounts for nearly 13 percent of the annual budget cost.

Citywide expenditures for the year show the most money, nearly 40 percent, going to the general fund, with 36 percent allocated for enterprise fund spending. Capital projects gets about 14 percent, debt service is just over 9 percent and special revenues and reserve funds together make up less than 2 percent of the total expenditures.

Alcantor said she and City Manager Abrew worked together to meet the council’s directives, namely to “deliver a balanced city budget” and “maintain the current level of service to the community.”

Other goals include incorporation of the city manager and council goals into the budget, utilize city reserve funds minimally and keep the city’s budget process open and easily understood.

“The first two goals are being carried over from FY 12-13 and are anticipated to be completed in FY 13-14,” Alcantor said of balancing the budget and maintaining services. “The third goal is to actively address all operating budgets to ensure they are sustainable.”

The fiscal year starts July 1 and council members will adopt the budget at a meeting later this month. Copies of the proposed spending plan are available at City Hall for review.

The proposed budget tops out at just over $2.9 million, but is down nearly $25,000 from the current spending plan. Operating revenues are projected to be just over $13,000 more than the operating expenses for the year.

“That’s one of the best budget layouts I’ve seen,” Alves commented, commending Alcantor, Abrew and the department heads for their efforts after reviewing the plan, a sentiment echoed by councilman Jeff Laugero.

“Great job to everybody,” Laugero said.