Tulare approves next year’s ‘status quo’ budget

Tulare approves the fiscal year 2022-2023 budget allowing for two additional police officers and much needed maintenance updates

TULARE – After months of discussion and review, Tulare City Council approved their budget for the 2022-2023 fiscal year. Without any major changes or cuts to revenue the council and city staff appeared in good spirits.

“[The approved budget] is extremely similar to last year’s budget. Status quo,”Josh McDonnell, Tulare deputy city manager said.

The Tulare City Council approved the budget at their Tuesday, June 21 meeting. This budget is expected to remain balanced by the end of next June, will fully fund needed vehicle and equipment updates and add six additional employees.

“It’s very heartening to be in a budget cycle where major cuts aren’t required, where levels of service are going to be maintained and we’re even going to be hiring two additional police officers,” McDonnell said. “That’s a really good place to be and I’m happy with that, I really hope that this continues.”

The city’s financial health is in a much better place than it was four years ago and they are able to move forward into next year without any cutbacks, according to McDonell. The general fund is the city’s least restrictive fund and is used for the majority of  expenses that are not specific to another fund. It also takes the most amount of time to budget for that reason. McDonnell explained the city’s general fund is sitting in a good place with about a 30% reserve. The city usually likes to keep the general fund reserves at 25%, allowing the city to survive without any revenue for three months in a pinch.

The reason the city is experiencing an increased level of health is two fold: In 2018, a court ruling allowed cities to receive sales tax from internet purchases in their jurisdiction; and, as inflation continues to rise, the amount of sales tax the city receives is increasing as well.

The approval of the budget will allow the police department to hire two additional officers. Their salaries will come out of the general fund along with a new full time position for an animal control kennel technician. McDonnell said the officers will be at least in part dedicated to the city’s emergency homeless shelter once it is completed.

“We are anticipating that they’ll be on boarded and in training, you have to have four weeks of training with a field training officer, by December,” McDonnell said.

As for the kennel technician, the city has deemed it to be a full time position rather than the current hourly or part time position.  The additional employees mentioned in the budget were job reclassifications according to McDonnell.

In addition to the new hires, McDonnell was happy to report the city is now able to complete much needed updates. The budget now allows the city to maintain regular vehicle replacement, which can be overlooked if the city is lacking funding. 

Any and all updates are able to begin as soon as July 1, the first day of the fiscal year. 

The city will be bringing back recreational activities in full since they have not hosted any since the pandemic. McDonnell said it is exciting to have these activities scheduled and fully funded for next year.

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