OAKDALE — The City Council this week approved a budget that aims to erase some of the red ink from the ledger.
It also voted to put red paint on a new welcome sign north of downtown, after residents complained about the original greenish hue.
Both votes were 5-0.
The budget calls for about $25.2 million in spending in the fiscal year starting July 1. About a third of it is in the general fund, while the rest involves water, sewer and garbage collection, and other specific purposes.
The general fund, where the council has the most discretion, has been running annual deficits of about $1 million in recent years, City Manager Bryan Whitemyer said. Transfers from other funds made up the difference.
The council approved general fund cuts totaling $540,000 to cut into the projected 2013-14 deficit. They include leaving two police jobs vacant, eliminating the positions of human resource analyst and recreation coordinator, and trimming part-time recreation staffing.
Whitemyer had proposed cutting three firefighter positions, one of them vacant, but withdrew that plan after hearing concerns from residents. They said public safety should be the priority for the money raised by Measure O, a half-cent sales tax increase that will run through March 2015.
Mayor Pat Paul said the new budget would help to keep Oakdale from following Stockton into bankruptcy.
"I think we made the decision to hold strong," she said. "We have a really tight budget."
The paint issue involved a fake water tank that AT&T built to conceal a new cell phone tower along Highway 120, just north of the A.L. Gilbert feed mill.
The tank is painted a light yellow-green that has been described as "putrid" and "garish," among other things. Some critics noted that green is one of the team colors for Sonora High School, longtime rival of Oakdale High School.
AT&T agreed to repaint the tank. The council chose a "rusty red" color, which is close to one of the Oakdale High team colors and the paint on the Gilbert mill.
"All I know is that it has to be better than the color we have today," Councilman Tom Dunlop said.
The tank will get an Oakdale Mustangs logo along with the "Welcome to Oakdale" message in the original design.
Bee staff writer John Holland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2385.