Tuesday, October 4, 2005

Suisun council to debate budget proposal

From Daily Republic // Oct. 4, 2005

By Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - Suisun City council members get yet another hold-the-line proposed budget tonight but one that doesn't dip as deep into the city's beleaguered reserves.

City Manager Suzanne Bragdon is proposing to spend nearly $8 million for the general fund budget, which pays for most of the city services - from police to public works.

Bragdon described the budget as another status quo budget that doesn't offer gains or losses in city services.

"We are continuing with the service levels we have in place, instead of continuing to cut employees," Bragdon said.

Suisun City's budget picture has brightened somewhat, but the city still has to dip into its reserves to make ends meet, according to the budget message to the city council from Bragdon.

"Our revenues are improving significantly," Bragdon said. "Because we budget conservatively, I expect to see the deficit to disappear by end of this fiscal year."

Last year, the city had to pull $650,000 from reserves. This year, it expects to take out $200,000.

A dozen positions were trimmed from the city payroll in the last few years and this budget goes forward while the police department staff and service levels are being examined in a yet-to-be-completed analysis.

The budget reflects the city council's decision made earlier this year to fill the vacant Community Development Director and Assistant City Manager for Administrative Services positions. It also recommends putting in a construction inspector position.

The capitol improvement budget proposes spending $3.4 million on streets and roads, which includes widening Driftwood Avenue near Crescent Middle School, rehabilitating Whispering Bay Street and building Lawler Ranch Park. The Redevelopment Agency's proposed projects this coming year include removing blight from the downtown, putting more public improvements along Main Street and spending $530,000 on a lighthouse.

Tonight's study session will be followed by more huddles among city staff to track down more revenue, figure out how best to deliver city services and work out both a short-term and long-term strategy to improve finances.

The council is expected to vote on the budget at its Oct. 18 meeting.

The Suisun City Council meets at 7 p.m. tonight in the Suisun City Council chamber at 701 Civic Center Blvd.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or ithompson@dailyrepublic.net.

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