Duarte Approves Lean Budget for 2012/13
DUARTE, CA, June 25, 2012 — Following a fifth consecutive year of budget cuts in program, services and personnel expenses, the Duarte City Council recently approved a $12 million General Fund budget with over $50,000 in projected deficit spending for Fiscal Year 2012/2013 at its June 12 meeting.
It is projected that the General Fund will end the fiscal year with a reserve of $12.5 million, or possibly drop to below $5 million; 42% of the General Fund operating budget if the State decides to retroactively invalidate City/Redevelopment Agency debt repayments.
Total General Fund expenditures are projected to be $12 million, an increase of $601,500 more than the 2011/2012 budget. This increase in General Fund expenses represents expenses that were previously funded with a portion of Redevelopment Funds that were seized by the State upon closure of the City’s long standing Redevelopment Agency effective February 1st. General Fund revenues are expected to increase to $11.98 million with an increase of $414,200 over the 2011/2012 budget. Total revenues and other resources received by the City and the Housing authority are estimated to be $16.1 million.
According to sales tax projections, revenues are expected to increase $120,000 or 2.7% over the mid year estimated actual. This is slower growth than last year, which grew by 4% and continues to remain $1 million below annual sales tax revenues from six years ago.
Over the past five years the City has made more than $2 million in cuts that have resulted in reduced services and programs for the community. Eight full time staff positions remain vacant due to budget limitations, representing a $791,000 annual savings, but further impacting services to the community. Full and three-quarter time staffing for 2012/2013 is at 41.25, a 20% reduction since 2008/2009.
There also continues to be an imbalance in the Citywide Landscape and Lighting District, as costs to operate and maintain continue to rise, but revenues do not adjust accordingly. Despite implementing cost-saving measures including longer periods between mowing, watering and tree trimming, the District will still require a subsidy from the City's General Fund of $227,000.
"While every attempt has been made to achieve a balanced budget and preserve a healthy reserve, this has not come without significant impacts to residents of Duarte," said Darrell George, City Manager. Adding, "As difficult as this budget was to put together, Duarte will still be able to offer many long standing programs and services; unfortunately, many at reduced levels. We will continue to monitor the State budget situation and economic trends and forecast their impact on Duarte resources so that we continue to remain ahead of the curve and retain our reserve," said George.
Duarte is working to plug some of the gaps by re-inventing programs, utilizing community partnerships, and looking at ways to increase revenues. For example, the City Council will soon consider final approval to exchange CDBG funds for General Funds, which would net approximately $41,000 in General Fund revenue and another $20,000 that could be set aside for low income youth programming previously funded utilizing a portion of CDBG funds. The Council is also considering increasing annual and temporary parking fees and a future public hearing. With the adoption of the budget, Council approved staff marketing and renting out City facilities including the Teen Center, gazebos in Encanto and Royal Oaks parks, Otis Gordon Park for soccer, in addition to selling a City Picnic executive sponsorship to generate approximately $103,000 in additional General Fund revenues.
As an example of the outstanding partnership between the City and the Duarte Unified School District, the District has offered to host the Junior Olympic track meet which the City has traditionally funded. This results in a $5,800 savings to the General Fund while retaining this outstanding youth program for the community. D.U.S.D. will also pay the entire cost of a Sheriff's Special Assignment Deputy School Resource Officer, a cost of $162,300 previously shared by the City.
Due to the magnitude of cuts and the City's desire to restore many, if not all, of these programs and services, the City Council retained Willdan Financial Services to conduct a survey and analysis of Duarte voters' willingness to support one of several new revenue options being considered to be placed on the November 2012 ballot. The telephone surveys recently concluded and are now being analyzed to determine if a Utility Tax, 1/2 % supplemental sales tax, or public safety parcel tax would be acceptable to voters in order to restore vital City services.