Ceres feels it can survive budget revision

CERES — In a scenario becoming standard among valley municipalities, the City Council here revised its budget this week, recognizing declining revenues and increased expenses for fuel.

When asked by the council if the adjustment was according to her "worst case" scenario of the earlier budget process, Sarah Ragsdale, the city's administrative services director, shook her head no.

"This is worse than the worst," Ragsdale said.

The total revenue decline in 2007-08 is expected to reach $641,212, the council was told.

Law enforcement will be fully staffed

City Manager Brad Kilger said Ceres is in much better shape than most cities, thanks to a healthy reserve fund. Staff projections put the city's reserves at $7.65 million at the end of this fiscal year, about 37 percent of the city's annual expenses.

Kilger said the economic forecasts he has seen indicate that it could be about four years before recovery. He also noted that the Central Valley always is the last to recover from these housing bubbles.

Ragsdale said city reserves should still be at least 27 percent of the budget through 2010-11.

Said Mayor Anthony Cannella: "We're in better shape than most cities. No one is going to be laid off, and law enforcement will be fully staffed."

The council approved the adjusted budget 4-0.

The council also learned that the county wants cities to participate in funding the animal shelter. Ceres' likely share would be 11 percent, based on population.

Bee staff writer Roger W. Hoskins may be reached at rhoskins@modbee.com or 578-2311.