Kevin Valine

Modesto News: City ends budget year with $4.9M

The city has closed the books on its most recent general fund budget with a roughly $5 million surplus.

City officials updated the City Council and public Tuesday night on the final results from the 2014-15 general fund budget, which ended June 30. The fund makes up about a third of the city’s operating budget and primarily pays for public safety.

General fund revenues for 2014-15 came in at $119 million vs. expenses of $114 million. Modesto actually ended up with more than the $5 million. This gets complicated and involves a lot of accounting, but Modesto finished its 2014-15 general budget with nearly $7.6 million that it can spend, save or roll over into the next general fund budget.

Here’s another wrinkle: The city has spent nearly $2.7 million of the nearly $7.6 million, leaving it with about $4.9 million.

The spending was $1.7 million for police radios, about $242,000 to cover one-time costs associated with a labor agreement with the Modesto Police Management Association, $500,000 for surveillance cameras to deter and catch taggers and $190,714 for a beautification project along one block of Tenth Street.

Finance Director Gloriette Genereux said a big part of the surplus typically comes from city departments not spending all of their budgeted funds, often because they don’t fill vacancies or don’t fill them quickly when employees leave. This is what the city did during the recession to help make ends meet.

Genereux said the 2014-15 surplus includes $2.5 million the city received from the dissolution of the Modesto Regional Fire Authority and a one-time reimbursement of about $1 million from the state. Not counting those items, the surplus is about $1.5 million, or about 1 percent, of the 2014-15 general fund.

In past years, Modesto has used part of what it has left after closing the books to help balance the next general fund budget.

But last year, the council decided to spend a big chunk of the $5.1 million available from the 2013-14 general fund budget. Officials said the budget was structurally balanced and it made sense to spend some money on one-time projects that would help the city. Those projects included a $250,000 matching grant to the Miracle League of Stanislaus County to help it build a baseball field for disabled children.

The city also spent $1.6 million of the $5.1 million to cover some of the costs associated with labor agreements Modesto had reached with five of its six labor groups. Those costs included raises and one-time incentive pay.

Mayor Ted Brandvold said in an interview after Tuesday’s workshop that while he was not ruling out spending some what is left over after closing the books on the 2014-15 general fund budget, he would like the city to save it. The general fund has $3 million in reserves that can be used for emergencies.

Kevin Valine: 209-578-2316