Council member Bill Raley does not want to close the golf course, but he does want to see it operated as efficiently as possible. For that reason he voted "no" on the city's 2014 budget.
Several ideas were tossed around for making Devil's Thumb less reliant on transfers from other city funds, but Raley doesn't think enough of them made it into the budget presented to city council Nov. 19. "I'm disappointed we didn't cut more out of the golf course budget," he said. "I think we could have."
Later in the meeting he cast the sole vote against increases in electric, water, sewer and trash rates.
"I looked into the finances of water, sewer and trash and I am convinced that the prime reason we are raising these rates is so we can send $355,000 to the golf course," Raley said. "To me it is grossly unfair to the citizens of the city of Delta to have to support something that very few of them use."
"In defense of that we have absorbed a lot of rate increases, especially on the power side," said council member Mary Cooper. "It's just a necessary evil of doing business."
City manager Justin Clifton says all the potential cost-saving scenarios for Devil's Thumb are still on the table, and will be considered during the off-season as he works on a three- to five-year operational plan for the golf course.
He pointed out a reduction in transfers of $90,000 from 2013 (anticipated) to 2014 (budgeted). "The budget does reflect an attempt to make substantial improvements," Clifton said. "Transfers [to the golf course] are at 50% of what they were three years ago."
"We have to keep finding ways to take the burden off taxpayers of the City of Delta to support the golf course," Raley said at a previous budget hearing. "Very few golfers live in the City of Delta but everyone is paying for it."
Council members Robert Jurca and Ray Penick pointed out the reduction in subsidies built into the budget and cautioned against rushing into any decisions.
Clifton pointed out the following budget highlights:
• Completion of the alternate truck route project.
• Investment in street maintenance and stormwater infrastructure with the anticipated support of state and federal grant dollars.
• Considerable planning efforts will be undertaken to address long-term street maintenance and facility needs.
• The organizational structure of the city will be examined in an attempt to find better ways to coordinate and deliver services at a lower cost.
• City staff will continue to find ways to reduce overall costs of services in order to reduce reliance on utility funds. The 2014 budget reflects a reduction of $809,815 in discretionary transfers from utility funds to the city's general fund and golf course fund since 2011.
"The budget reflects local economic conditions by projecting limited growth in revenues for 2014," Clifton noted.
Overall, expenditures are estimated at $37,421,220, a 10.26% reduction from 2013. The reduction is due in large part to an effort to budget expenses realistically, without a built-in "cushion."blog comments powered by Disqus