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Special Session Ends With Budget Adoption

By a 5-0 vote, Escalon City Council members approved the new budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year in a special session on June 24.

Starting first with a budget workshop at 6 p.m. in the council chambers and with the meeting also available online, City Manager Tammy Alcantor provided an overview of the spending plan. She noted that the city’s two main sources of revenue for its General Fund are property tax and sales tax. Those two taxes account for nearly three quarters of the general fund revenues. As a result of the COVID-19 Stay At Home order enacted earlier this year, the city’s sale tax revenue is down over 17 percent.

As presented, the budget for the new fiscal year, which starts July 1, sees general fund operating revenues of just over $4.1 million while expenditures are predicted at slightly under $4.5 million. That puts the city in deficit spending of about $368,000 for the coming year, though that will be offset by funds available in the reserves.

Alcantor said the city is projecting a beginning balance of $3.4 million in the operating budget reserve, a healthy percentage of 36.4 percent, above the city’s fiscal goal of having a 33 percent budget reserve.

“We project our expenses high and our revenues low,” noted Mayor Robert Swift.

Alcantor agreed and said department heads were asked to budget conservatively for this coming year, especially keeping in mind the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and its overall impact on not just the local, but also state, national and global economies.

After the budget workshop, the council hosted a public hearing on the proposed budget. There were no comments on the plan and, with one change by councilman Jeff Laugero, the budget was passed. Laugero moved to not delay the hiring of another officer for the police department until January 2021 but get the position filled as soon as possible. The mid-budget year hiring was originally planned but Laugero said he would rather see the department get a new officer on board sooner rather than later.

With that change, Laugero made the motion to approve the budget, with a second from Mayor Pro Tem Ed Alves and it was a unanimous vote for approval. Look for additional details about the new budget in the July 1 issue of The Times.