The Delta City Council, while reviewing an extensive list of programs and projects for 2019, plus requests for five new employees, faced the grim reality that sources of new revenue are limited. While sales tax collections are up 5.47 percent year to date, voters soundly rejected a half-cent sales tax increase that would have generated up to $1 million for parks, recreation and golf.
They did approve the sale of the municipal light and power plant, which might generate some revenue, as could the sale of other city-owned property that doesn't require voter approval. Voters also approved the sale of Riverbend and Cottonwood parks, but those properties may be used for a land swap.
Medical marijuana centers will generate sales tax down the road, as will sales tax collections on internet purchases, but no one can predict how much revenue either source will bring in.
The city will also gain $25,000 by cutting its contribution to Delta County Economic Development by at least half, and will receive up to $50,000 from Delta County Joint School District #50 to help beef up police presence at the schools in Delta.
But with the city's needs and wants clearly outstripping new revenue, it's clear to at least one council member that the city will be dipping into reserves. Gerald Roberts said that's not a sustainable approach.
During a budget work session on Nov. 13, council members also heard from a large library contingent seeking help with urgently needed repairs at the Delta Library. The building elevator and HVAC system each need about $50,000 in repairs, library representatives said. Because the historic library building is owned by the city, and leased to the library district, they would like to split the cost of repairs 50-50. While council members voiced support for the request, it remains to be seen if they can come up with the funds.
The five staff positions being considered include a marketing person, administrative assistant for public works, and three new officers for the Delta Police Department. One would potentially be a school resource officer and another would be tasked with narcotics investigations.
Only the marketing position has the potential to create revenue for the city, council members observed.
Over the course of three-plus hours, they discussed the merits of a fulltime paid position versus contracting with a marketing firm; a school resource officer versus overtime for DPD officers who volunteer to help cover the schools; and the use of interns or part-time help versus committing to full-time salaries and benefits.
City manager David Torgler and finance director Tod DeZeeuw said they will sort through the council member comments and have a draft ready for review at the Nov. 20 council meeting.