All departments but one have now outlined projected revenues and expenditures for 2014. The presentations have taken place over a series of 1 1/2-hour work sessions held prior to the regular bi-monthly Delta City Council meetings.
The 2014 budget becomes more clear with the work sessions, each of which has featured two or three city departments.
The final presentation will be made by golf course manager Rob Sanders. Golf course operations have been under close scrutiny since Devil's Thumb opened 12 years ago. Now the subsidies from the city's municipal, light and power fund that have kept the golf course solvent are no longer financially feasible. In 2014 the city will start transferring reserves from its other enterprise funds — water, sewer and trash — but it's only a matter of time before those reserves are gone as well.
So the discussion of the golf course is one that will require more time and considerably more thought. Devil's Thumb will be the sole topic of the final budget work session Tuesday, Oct. 15. City manager Justin Clifton plans to devote a full two hours to that discussion, but warned council members a special meeting may still be needed.
On Tuesday, Oct. 2, the recreation and citywide budgets were presented.
Recreation center director Wilma Erven noted customer visits totaled 137,378 during 2012. Facility rentals for the same year were 246, but more revealing was the number of special events the recreation center could not accommodate. Because the recreation center was booked, the group was too large, or individual breakout rooms were needed, the recreation center could not accommodate 102 events. For that reason, one of the goals of 2014 will be to analyze the needs of the community. Expansion of the conference area was incorporated into the recreation center master plan for expansion, but was taken off the plate in anticipation of construction of a hotel with a conference room. That project never materialized.
The primary focus in 2014 will be on developing programs for the newly expanded fitness and aquatic areas at the recreation center. The 2014 budget reflects staffing changes related to that expansion. Funds have been budgeted to help welcome desk employees learn to communicate with the "huge" Spanish-speaking clientele.
The budget also includes a huge inflatable obstacle course for the main pool. Erven believes the obstacle course will increase pool usage during "lulls" and generate additional income through special use fees.
The recreation center also coordinates sports programs for all ages, programs that primarily take place outside the recreation center.
Sixty-eight percent of the revenue dedicated to the recreation center is generated through sales tax. The remainder comes from admission and program fees.
The citywide fund is also supported by a 1% sales tax used to pay for most capital improvement projects not captured in enterprise funds, including streets, concrete projects and stormwater infrastructure.
The amount of money budgeted for street repairs was reduced dramatically during construction of the alternate truck route, but will jump from $25,000 in 2013 to $400,000 in 2014. Department head Jim Hatheway said repaving Palmer Street tops the list of priorities.
Again in 2014, property owners will have an opportunity to cost-share concrete replacement projects 50-50 with the city.
Highlights from previous work sessions include:
• Parks supervisor Paul Suppes is projecting a relatively flat budget. Council members had specific questions about usage of Horse Country Arena.
• The Internal Services Fund focuses on fleets and facilities. Every department in the city funnels money into the Internal Service Fund to cover replacement and maintenance costs of the vehicles used within that department. Department head Rod Myers said $480,000 of fleet equipment was replaced in 2013. For 2014, the focus will be on a long-range assessment of city facilities. Council members observed city employees are scattered throughout the city and encouraged city manager Justin Clifton to consider consolidating some offices.
• The community development office headed by Glen Black has taken on other duties, including information technology and code enforcement as planning activities have slowed down. Several staff cuts have been made since development peaked in 2008.
• Expenses associated with central government, including administration, finance, human resources, city attorney and the city/court clerk, have declined 16.39% since 2010. "That speaks to the continuous effort to find efficiencies," city manager Justin Clifton said.
• Transfers from enterprise funds will be down this year because of a new budgeting philosophy. Each department will now be transferring its share of support services — payroll, human resources, etc. — to the general fund. Historically, the general fund has collected $425,000 in administrative fees and $950,000 in transfers. That number will be flipped in 2014, Clifton said, because that scenario correlates more closely to the services provided.
Clifton also asked department heads to take the "cushion" out of anticipated expenses and stick with a five-year average of actual expenditures to provide a more realistic framework for 2014.
• Rate increases for city sewer, water, trash and electricity have been proposed. In 2014, the typical residential customer will pay an additional $12.35 per month ($148.20 per year) for electric, water, sewer and trash pickup. (See DCI story, "Rate increases are on the horizon for Delta utilities," in the Aug. 28 edition for details.)blog comments powered by Disqus