Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Suisun budget still tight; reserves won't be looted

From Daily Republic // Oct. 5, 2005
Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - The Suisun City Council made few changes during a Tuesday budget study session to a draft budget that itself makes few alterations in how the city does business.

Instead, changes may happen in the middle of the budget year in January, when new City Manager Suzanne Bragdon proposes a series of short- and long-term strategies to improve the city's financial fortune.

It will also be when the City Council takes a serious look at what it can do to create more revenue and raise levels of service for residents.

Once such future revenue boost took hold Tuesday when the council approved going forward with a community facilities district to cover any future residential housing. This was done independent of the budget study session.

Initially aimed at the proposed Blossom Manor development, it would impose greater fees on new residential housing so that the city's residential growth will pay more of its way.

The assessments will go to funding police, fire landscaping and storm drain costs. The idea to charge a fee to future housing to support recreation and the library was dropped before Tuesday's meeting.

The council was handed a hold-the-line general fund budget that proposes to spend almost $8 million, but doesn't dip into the reserves as deeply as it did last year.

Last year, the city had to take $650,000 from reserves to make ends meet. This year, it plans to take out $200,000.

But even the $200,000 may be a high figure, according to Bragdon, who said she has budgeted conservatively and hopes to see the deficit disappear by the end of this fiscal year.

City Hall has trimmed a dozen positions in the last few years, but is now filling three vacant ones - a community development director, an assistant city manager for administrative services and a construction inspector position.

A final version of the city budget is expected to land back before the city council for approval at its Oct. 18 meeting.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at

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