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Modesto finds an extra $3.15 million

Modesto received an extra $3.15 million in general fund revenue for its 2014-15 budget, which ended June 30, and city officials recommend the money be spent on police and fire services.

Officials are expected to discuss the extra money and how to spend it Monday evening at the City Council’s Finance Committee meeting. A city report states the general fund – which makes up about a third of the city’s operating budget and primarily pays for public safety – received more in property taxes, business license taxes and other revenue than expected.

The report states officials recommend adding $827,000 to the police budget and $2.32 million to the fire budget. The extra police funding is primarily for higher-than-expected fleet maintenance costs and extra costs for new police officer recruits, according to the report. The extra fire funding is primarily for keeping Fire Station No. 6 in north Modesto open.

This is the second time in recent months that Modesto has reported additional general fund revenues. Earlier this year, the City Council decided how to spend roughly $5 million in additional revenue from the city’s 2013-14 budget.

It also comes as voters will decide the fate of Measure G, Modesto’s one-half percent general sales tax increase on the November ballot. City officials say the tax increase is needed to provide more public safety services, such as hiring more police officers, and other essential services after years of budget cuts.

The Finance Committee also is expected to discuss:

▪  A proposal to create more than a dozen new Utilities Department job titles and associated duties. This is based on an effort to reduce specialization and create more efficient use of the department’s employees and meet the department’s long-term needs. Utilities Director Larry Parlin said the changes could cost as much as roughly $700,000 in wages and benefits, which would come from the water and sewer funds.

▪  Selling the city’s roughly 22-acre McClure ranch property and how the money should be spent. The property is bordered by the Creekside Golf Course and Dry Creek Regional Park on the west, Claus Road to the east, homes to the north and a Modesto Irrigation District canal to the south, according to a city report. The city acquired the property in the 1970s with the intent of using it as a living museum of Modesto’s rural heritage. The property is now closed.

▪  Setting aside about $170,000 for the city to participate in the Google Government Innovation Lab. The money comes from a settlement of a California class-action lawsuit in which it was alleged that Office Depot overcharged its government clients from 2001 to 2010, according to Modesto officials. Modesto would use the money to buy 50 laptops and equipment and for instruction and innovation tools if the city were to apply to the Google program and were accepted.

The Finance Committee makes recommendations to the full council, which can enact them. The committee meets at 5 p.m. in Room 2005 on the second floor of Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th St.

Kevin Valine: 209-578-2316

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