Lindsay reviews city’s operating budget
Lindsay City Council discusses the draft budget for FY ‘23-34, voices thoughts about having less projected revenue than prior years
LINDSAY – After going months without a financial director, the city council gathered at one of its recent meetings to review the city’s draft budget.
Lindsay City Council has now finished their Fiscal Year 2023-24 operating budget after appointing a new finance director on Aug. 7. Salvador Guzman, the new finance director, completed the draft budget and presented it to the council on Sept. 12; the budget was due in July.
However, council was concerned that there are fewer funds in this year’s budget compared to the ones for the last few years; so the draft budget was not approved this round and will be revisited on Sept. 26 for additional review.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow,” Mayor Hipolito Cerros said. “Last year’s finances were not as bad.”
According to city manager Joe Tanner, the grants and extra funding that the pandemic once brought the city are no longer available. The various COVID relief grants given to the city in the past are not expected this year. This has made the city’s revenue drop by 6% and the general fund decreased by 28%.
“We’re off the high-highs during COVID, when COVID revenue was going off the charts,” Tanner said. “Now that it’s kind of come back down to earth, that’s really the only ongoing revenue source that I see as a real concern.”
Tanner continued to explain that COVID brought the city a $2 million grant from Senator Hurtados’s office, $400,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on top of the cannabis sales tax that spiked in the pandemic. It was noted that the general fund this year is similar to those before COVID.
With the revenue being down due to the lack of COVID-related funding, expenses have also increased, such as the 16% increase in liability insurance, 57% in wellness center expenses and an 83% increase in the water fund.
Overall the city’s draft budget is investing $7.4 million into community investment including street maintenance, public safety and parks and recreation. On top of the budget changes due to COVID, the city is also hiring a number of new positions, which is costing them money.
“It can cost us six-to-nine months of a regular employee salary to cover the recruitment. For example, if an employee’s salary is $60,000 per year, that will cost us $30,000-$45,000 in just training expenses,” financial director Guzman said.
The city recently hired Guzman, as well as a new executive assistant, and they also have plans to hire more people. One of the new positions is as a firefighter specializing in fire prevention, a human resources assistant and two new water and sewer operators.
On top of hiring new positions, the city is investing in public safety equipment. This includes stun guns and body cameras and community outreach, like a newsletter the city is releasing and the fire prevention work, which the newly hired firefighter will prioritize.