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Independent Voice

City Council Discusses Budget Deficit

May 20, 2024 05:59PM ● By Angela Underwood, photos by Angela Underwood

Dixon Fire Chief Todd McNeal assures officials his department, which accounts for 23% of the annual budget, is doing all it can to find alternative funding including grants.

 

DIXON, CA (MPG) - An approximately $2-million deficit is in the proposed Fiscal Year 2024-25.

Dixon finance director Kate Zawadzki presented the $30.7-million budget to the Dixon City Council at a special workshop on May 6. The Independent Voice covered the mid-year 2023-24 budget in March, reporting a $600,000 increase approved by the council. 

Not much has changed since then. With the council considering placing a 1% sales tax increase on the November ballot, final figures are hard to calculate. The proposed tax could add approximately $3 million to the General Fund budget if passed. Councilmember Thom Bogue wanted to know what would happen if it failed.

"If it is not approved and the budget comes in with current projections, then it is a $2-million deficit," Zawadzki said, noting that is when difficult conversations must begin. "These are not going to be easy conversations because departments have cut 10% over the last two years."

For more than an hour, the finance director detailed dozens of general revenue figures, including property tax, sales tax, transient occupancy tax, other taxes, fees and other revenues, charges for services, and transfers-in, which all fund the General Fund budget.

The General Fund budget disperses between the four largest departments: police at 30%, fire at 23%, general government at 15%, and public works at 12%. Other departments, including finance, engineering, community development, recreation and human resources, fill the rest of the budget at single-digit percentages.

Fiscal Year Budget Dixon

 2024-25 Fiscal Year Budget yearly timeline from beginning to end.


Fiscal Year Budget

 2024-25 Fiscal Year Budget proposal, showing both expenditures and revenues.


Councilmember Jim Ernest said that $22 million of the entire budget is for salaries and benefits. While he understands some departments have had to "squeeze down," Ernest said he worries how further decreases could "eventually affect employees."

Fire Chief Todd McNeal was asked to the podium to discuss whether other funding services, including grants, could supplement some fire department budget costs.

"We are exploring every possible program available to us so as not to see the impact we see across the city," McNeal said.

Zawadzki explained the operating budget has both capital and one-time requests. Any project over $5,000 is considered capital, and one-time expenses include purchases not made annually. However, one ongoing request has become Pardi Plaza utilities, which are nearly $25,000.

"When we first accepted Pardi Plaza, we did not break out a budget for it, including lights and water," Louren Kotow, public works director, told the council.

If Dixon continues to use Pardi Plaza for public purposes, Kotow added, the city might have to supplement costs with a resident rental agreement for site use.

"One of the areas we are seeing revenue increases is building permits and inspections," Zawadzki said. "We do have robust housing development going on right now that has continued, despite all of the other economic activity we are seeing."

Zawadzki was asked to address the Solano County accounting snafu, which resulted from software that caused many residents not to be appropriately billed on their property taxes. Like residents, the city has yet to see tax revenue for new homes or the sale of large, developed parcels of land. Supplemental taxes have also been delayed but are expected to be recovered in the future.

"They are about nine months behind on recording any changes in property," Zawadzki said. "And the auditor- controller office is another three months behind them."

The only public comment was by Sam Ward, the city treasurer, who said as "a full-service city with residential growth," he would like to see funding for an additional police and firefighter, grants coordinator, and the senior center. 

City Treasurer Jim Ward fire and police department

 City Treasurer Jim Ward requests officials add at least one more position in both the fire and police department for the upcoming budget.


The council expects a final reading and adoption of the General Fund budget on June 4.


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