Turlock to consider budget, ballot measures

06/08/2014 6:10 PM

06/08/2014 6:11 PM

The City Council on Tuesday will consider a detailed budget for the fiscal year starting in July and a rough budget for the year after that.

Members also could take final votes to place two major issues on the November ballot – a half-percentage-point increase in the sales tax for street repairs, and switching to district elections for the council.

The proposed budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year shows $32.4 million in general fund spending, up slightly from the $32.2 million in the initial spending plan reviewed last month. This fund mainly goes to police and fire protection and is where the council has the most discretion. Both departments’ funding would increase slightly.

The proposed spending is up from $30.5 million in the current year. Turlock has seen gains in sales and property taxes as the economy slowly recovers, but the budget still calls for taking $915,619 from reserves, which stand at about $13.3 million, mainly to replace capital equipment.

The projected budget for 2015-16 shows general fund spending of $32.9 million, with only $184,588 taken from reserves thanks to continued growth in tax revenue.

The council took initial votes last month to place the two measures on the ballot. Tuesday’s actions are likely to be routine.

The sales tax increase would raise an estimated $5.6 million over its seven-year life. The city staff has prepared a detailed list of projects on streets of various sizes across Turlock.

The city tax would go away earlier if the Stanislaus Council of Governments gets voters to approve a countywide measure, which could happen in 2016.

The city is looking at district elections as a means to increase Latino representation. Officials also have said they want to avoid an expensive battle with activists pushing for the change under the California Voting Rights Act of 2002.

The council last month favored boundaries that would create a southwest district with a substantial Latino population, south of Fulkerth Road and west of Golden State Boulevard. The other districts would roughly cover the northwest, northeast and southeast quadrants.

If approved by voters, the districts would take effect with the 2016 and 2018 elections. The mayor still would be elected citywide.

District elections require approval by a simple majority of voters, while at least two-thirds is needed for the tax increase.

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