Visalia purchases equipment, puts more into reserve fund and into fund for new civic center
By Reggie Ellis @Reggie_SGN
VISALIA – The City of Visalia is projecting to finish the current fiscal year with more money, lower than expected expenses, new equipment all while adding more to its emergency reserve fund and socking money away for a new civic center.
The Visalia City Council received the rosy budget update at its March 19 meeting. In her report to the Council, finance director Renee Nagel stated that Visalia’s revenues are projected to be higher than budgeted by $2.9 million by the end of June, the end of the 2017-18 fiscal year. The majority of the increase is due to property tax and sales tax coming in higher than budgeted. Measure N alone is expected to outpace projections by $1.9 million. Visalia will receive an additional $1 million in sales tax revenues over projections and an additional $800,000 in property taxes over projections. The only major decrease in revenue was from AB109, the public safety realignment that provided early release to low-level prisoners to county probation. The money, which has been completely cut from Visalia, was used to fund an officer to help with prisoners who were released.
The City’s expenditures are projected to be $2.2 million under projections by the end of June, with administration, police, public works and police all coming in below projections. The only department with increased expenditures is fire, by about $900,000, due to strike teams to the Southern California wildfires. Some of that will be offset by reimbursements and unpaid overtime due to vacancies.
“While the economy continues to have growth, the City’s mid-year financial report shows areas of concern with increasing expenditures in the General Fund and a slight decrease in construction activity and the housing market,” stated the report. “Houses are selling at higher prices but are on the market longer than the past two years.”
In addition to accepting the report, the Council also directed staff to deposit another $500,000 into the Emergency Reserve Fund to maintain its policy of keeping the fund at 25% of operating expenses. The Council had previously reached that mark in December prior to the more recent adjustments. As part of the motion, the council amended its emergency reserve fund policy to deposit any remaining surplus revenue over the 25% into a fund for a new civic center.
The city’s current financial health led staff members to recommend capital improvements to replace police and fire equipment as well as a parking structure elevator. The City Council approved $31,000 to purchase a 2018 2500 Chevy Silverado to replace a 2010 Dodge truck that was involved in a traffic collision last August, and $34,000 to purchase a 2018 Ford Fusion hybrid sedan to replace a similar car that was in a traffic collision in January. For the fire department, the Council authorized $90,000 to purchase uniforms for five new firefighters who will fill vacancies due to retirements in June, and $80,500 to replace radio communications equipment that became obsolete this month. Finally, the Council approved $100,000 to replace a leaking piston in the hydraulics of the elevator in the Acequia Street parking structure.
The police department will also be getting a new K9. The Council approved $33,000 to purchase a new dog, upgrade an existing patrol vehicle for the dog and equipment for the four-legged officer. The Police department currently has two new K9s budgeted in the General fund, however an additional canine is needed due to the recent retirement of Deuce. The K9 is being funded through the Police Unclaimed Monies Fund, derived from monies that are seized as evidence when an individual is booked. The fund is projected to have a cash balance of $400,000 by June.