Farmersville budget includes salary freeze; honors retiree
By Crystal Havner
Special to the Sun-Gazette
farmersville – Budget deficits are almost becoming a way of life for cities. With stagnant sales tax revenue and increasing costs to labor and health care, city halls are finding it hard to close the gap. And now that California cities just entered into the 2017-2018 fiscal year, they have had to make some tough decisions on what to cut. The latest city in the Foothills to make a change is Farmersville.
During their June 26 City Council meeting the Council approved the 2017-2018 budget. And despite employee salary freezes that amount to $75,000 in savings, the budget is still projected to come in $68,406 over budget by June 30 of next year. City finance director Steve Huntley noted in a presentation to the Council that despite improvement projects in the city, they are not sustainable by City finances alone and deficits in the general fund cannot continue if the City is to remain solvent.“The City of Farmersville continues to forge ahead with many projects and community enhancements through the many grants and one-time funding opportunities that the City has secured. Concurrently, the General Fund is in an adverse state with a second straight year of projected deficit spending,” Huntley said. “This is not a sustainable path and action must be taken to reverse this trend. Using Fund balance to pay for ongoing expense is a guaranteed method to reach insolvency.”
Mayor Paul Boyer impressed that he understood the reason for the deficit but added that it is important to keep morale up for City employees.
“We are doing everything we can to be $68,000 in the hole for our general fund. Right now we have to tell city employees, ‘you are doing a great job, but we can’t give you a raise.’”
A common proposal coming from city halls in the Valley is an increase to the sales tax. And now Farmersville is looking to join the sales tax increase and marijuana sales club as the council has proposed a half-percent sales tax increase and allowing commercial cultivation of marijuana in the city limits. A public hearing has been scheduled at the next council meeting on July 10 at 6 p.m. to give residents an opportunity to voice their opinion and ask questions.
City Manager John Jansons conveyed that revenue is a huge priority.
“This need comes from the city’s ongoing budget issues that are out of our control.”
But sales tax and potential taxes on marijuana is just the latest revenue proposal. Already the City has scheduled a Prop. 218 hearing to increase water rates to sustainable levels. That public hearing is scheduled for Sept. 25 at 6 p.m. at City hall.
In Other News
Public Works Director Dale Wyckoff was recognized for his 23 years as a city employee. Wyckoff retired at the end of June.
“I appreciate all of you and the chiefs. You have been great to work with,” he said. “Now I’m going to have to figure out what to do with my mornings.”
Boyer added, “Dale has worked in every aspect of public works. You have a great opportunity to enjoy your life, but it is bad for us because you are going to leave a big gap. You just don’t replace all that knowledge over night.”