Claremont Insider: City Council Meeting Tonight

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

City Council Meeting Tonight

The Claremont City Council meets tonight at 6:30pm in the council chambers at 225 W. Second St. You can review the meeting agenda here.

You can also watch tonight's council meeting here.

Among the consent calendar items is the resignation of Community Services Commissioner Antonia Castro, who is moving out of the area. Also, the Claremont Chamber of Commerce is asking the council to approve June 30 as the date for the State of the City luncheon. The council participates by making a slide presentation to the chamber, so staff will need to get their PowerPoint juices flowing.

City Manager Jeff Parker has the City's mid-year budget report ready to go, and the good news is that revenues seem to be matching projections. So the budget will remain in the black for Fiscal Year 2010-11. For FY 2009-10, the City showed a budget surplus in excess of the expected $611,616, so the belt-tightening and staff reductions have paid off. Parker's report also says there's a great deal of uncertainty from on the state level because no one knows how Governor Jerry Brown's proposed elimination of redevelopment agencies will play out.

According to the report,a portion of the lost redevelopment funds would be offset by higher property tax revenues for the General Fund:

The impacts to the City of such an action by the State would be significant, with $728,696 in salary and benefit and administrative costs that would have to be funded through another revenue source or eliminated altogether. Similarly, the City's economic development activities, at a cost of $451,987, would also require an alternate funding source or face elimination. It should be noted that the elimination of the Redevelopment Agency would result in increased General Fund property tax revenue currently estimated at between $100,000 and $200,000 annually.

Here's the Parker's report:

City Manager Parker is also presenting the council with a 74-page report for the council on the final findings of the Mayor's Ad Hoc Committee on Economic Sustainability:

Unlike the 2010-11 mid-year budget report, the committee's findings were rather grim. According to the report, even under the rosiest of revenue assumptions, Claremont's budget will be back in the red by FY 2011-12 and faces a $1.17 million budget deficit by FY 2015-16. Under the most pessimistic revenue projections, the report indicates the City's deficit will be as high as $3.98 million by FY 2015-16 (see the chart below):

Click on Image to Enlarge

The report calls the severe fiscal forecasts "the new normal" and counsels us to accept this reality. It also acknowledges the fact that any tax or fee increases need to balanced by spending cuts:
The Committee became convinced that to recommend only increased taxes and other burdens on the populace without recommending concomitant structural (reoccurring) reductions in City expenditures would be neither politically nor economically viable.
To cut to the chase, here are the committee's findings and recommendations:

So expect continued cutbacks in employee benefits, as well an increase in the city's Utility Users Tax (UUT). The committee is recommending a temporary, five-year increase. But, if you know Claremont's history (cue town historian Judy Wright), you know that any promises of having a sunset provision for the increase will turn into a permanent UUT hike.