TURLOCK — With spending outpacing income by $570,000, City Hall is looking at a host of cost-cutting tactics and a possible overhaul of Municipal Services for the next spending year.
City Council took its first of many stabs at the city budget Tuesday night and created an ad hoc committee to take a hard look at Municipal Services — the city division that includes parks, recreation, arts, maintenance, water and sewer, among others departments.
Councilman Ted Howze said he believes there's $100,000 to $110,000 in possible trimming, maybe more, especially at management levels.
"There's a lot of potential savings," echoed Councilman Kurt Spycher. "We're quite heavy in management."
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"Is the goal to just cut?" asked Mayor John Lazar.
"The goal is to streamline," Howze said.
The mayor called the meeting "hacking season" after Howze and Spycher agreed that $60,000 for Sacramento lobbying services wasn't needed. Lazar made lobbying the state capital and Washington, D.C., one of his early goals as mayor. He called Tuesday a "slash-and-burn evening."
Staff recorded council comments and will present an alternative budget before the start of the new fiscal year July 1.
City staff expected a $3 million deficit, but closed the window to $570,000 by:
Implementing a hiring freeze throughout the city system except for two positions in the Development Services wing, police and fire;
Reducing operation and maintenance budgets to 90 percent of the current year's spending;
Eliminating all nonmandatory travel and training;
Eliminating all General Fund support of capital expenditures;
Canceling some funding commitments such as $1 million for the second phase of a Police Department strategic plan that includes three new units and stalling the creation of three more firefighter positions.
The city has an ample savings account to make up the remaining $570,000 difference, Kerr said. The proposed General Fund budget shows $33.1 million in expenditures and $32.5 million in revenues.
With some revisions, the public safety funding — including the police strategic plan, more firefighters and firefighting equipment — may be saved, Howze said.
Tuesday was the first of several meetings before final budget decisions are made.
Bee staff writer Michael R. Shea can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2391.