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July 8, 2009 > Budget and Capital Improvement Plan approved

Budget and Capital Improvement Plan approved

By Meenu Gupta

Union City Council passed four resolutions at its June 26 meeting: GANN Appropriations Limit, biannual budget and five-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), amendments to fiscal year 2008-2009 operating and CIP budgets, redevelopment agency (RDA) budget for FY 2009-10 and FY 2010-11. The Gann Appropriations Limit, adopted by California voters in 1980, places limits on the amount of taxes that state and local governmental agencies can appropriate and spend each year.

Following the May 26 proposed budget report submission, public workshops were held on June 8 and June 11. Taking into consideration the feedback received and corrections made by the staff, the final budget was proposed. Due to loss of 911 fees, declining property and sales tax revenues and rising costs, the City expected a $ 6.7M deficit for FY 2009-10. Staff was required to balance the General Fund (GF) budget without a significant new source of revenue.

The budget is now balanced by the following actions.

"We have eliminated some vacant and staffed positions; there have been layoff notices; there were eight layoff notices, three full-time positions and five part-time positions. But employees in only one full-time and one part-time position will lose jobs and others have been transferred to other positions," said City Manager Larry Cheeves.

Another action taken is offering Golden Handshakes to employees. A golden handshake allows for two additional years of retirement service credit. Golden handshakes were offered only where there would otherwise be a layoff.

Other actions include shifting of personnel and operating costs to other funds that could support them; one-time transfers of reserve balances from other funds into the GF to temporarily support on-going operations; cutting operations and maintenance costs by nearly 20% in all departments and increasing on-going fund transfers from other funds into the GF.

Full funding of the library with $ 41,700 cost including no closure on Friday has been approved. Shifting of library budget to city council and funding of one special needs event at $ 3,000 and continued funding of GFOA Membership/Certificate program costing $5,000 has also been approved. Restoring one COPPS Officer for Neighborhood Watch costing $169,000 has also been approved.

Through use of Golden handshake agreements and funding shifts, nine police officer layoffs have been avoided. However, revised proposals still call for elimination of 12 vacant positions in the Police Department, 11 sworn and one non-sworn. The ARRA and DOJ grants that the city has applied for may restore some or all of these positions. The City will know the outcome possibly late September 2009. If City does not receive the grant funding, in that case GF and CFD could be used to fund up to two Police Officer positions at Council's discretion. This picture will be clear in Fall or earlier once the status of the grant applications becomes known. The council decided to wait until the City receives notification on grants before deciding to use any additional funds to support currently vacant Police Officer positions.

City Manager Larry Cheeves clarified that the proposal is to eliminate the Fire Marshal position and to have those services performed by the Fire Chief.

Council Member Richard Valle said he is willing to compromise on streets, parks, recreation services and other areas but not on fire, police and public safety. "I would feel more comfortable if we restore the Fire Marshall position. Unless we do that I can't support the budget," he said. Motion was approved with 4-1 vote.

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