Lindsay puts last minute funds to work on projects
The City of Lindsay passed its final budget just before the end of the fiscal year and right after it received some unexpected, but welcome financial news.
At its June 28 special meeting, Finance Director Tamara Laken told the Lindsay City Council the City received $135,360 of unbudgeted revenue. The money is from a settlement between the eight incorporated cities and the County of Tulare regarding property tax administration fees. The County had overcharged Cities for the fees during the fiscal years 2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09, 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12.
The City Council approved a resolution amending its 2012-13 Operating Budget by the amount which will be split between its savings account and a youth project.
Laken said $85,630 will be a cash set-aside in the Undesignated Capital Revenue Fund while $50,000 would be added to the active list of Capital Improvement Projects to relocate the skatepark from the McDermont Field House to City Park and to convert the current skatepark area into a cross fit arena at McDermont. The City Council went on to approve up to $40,000 for the relocation of the skatepark. (See story on page A3.)
Prior to approving the actual budget, Lindsay resident Tim Daubert chastised the City for continuing to subsidize revenue at McDermont and the Wellness Center. McDermont revenues are projected to be $300,000 less than last year. In order to cover the operating costs of the facility, the City plans to transfer $194,000 from the General Fund to McDermont.
The Wellness Center is in better shape. The health facility revenues seem to be nearly stagnant. It will still need a $32,000 transfer from the General Fund to cover its costs for the next year. In order to try and balance the budget, Lindsay also laid off the equivalent of five employees, mostly part-time and seasonal workers at the McDermont Field House and Wellness Center.
“You should be ashamed of yourselves,” Daubert said. “You keep funding McDermont and the Wellness Center because they can’t survive on their own.”
Wilkinson responded that shutting down McDermont is not the “best course of action.” He said the City must make smarter investments in the facility to build its numbers in memberships and become the regional facility it was intended to be and continue to attract groups from outside the city limits. He said by making better use of the skatepark space at McDermont, the City can increase revenues by offering an area for the most popular form of fitness. The cross fit arena will offer intensive workouts that focuses on strength, flexibility, agility and endurance.
“We need to take calculated yet safe risks to try and increase the revenue at McDermont,” he said. “We also need to make better use of our space and resources to save money where we can.”
Former Lindsay Unified School District Superintendent Janet Kliegl applauded the City for future budget considerations. Kliegl noted the City included a roundabout at Westwood Avenue and Hermosa Street on its list of miscellaneous capital improvement projects for 2014-15 fiscal year. Kliegl said the school district had worked with the City for years to try and find an answer to slow traffic down near Jefferson Elementary School.
She recalled a meeting in 2008-09 when 100 parents sat in the cafeteria pleading for something to make the intersection safer for students. In 2010, a temporary solution was provided to put lights and signs at the intersection to make children crossing Hermosa more visible. She said the roundabout would create a permanent solution for students and their parents because studies have shown there are less accidents and less fatal collisions at roundabouts.
“It’s a wonderful project for our community and its children,” Kliegl said.
Wilkinson said the roundabout project could be moved up to this year if the funding is released earlier than scheduled. He said the project will be funded by a $375,000 Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) grant, which will provide most of the funding. The City will only need about $85,000 in local funds to match the grant.
Wilkinson went on to commend his staff for their hard work in preparing the “best, most accurate budget this City has ever had.” He credited his staff for being dedicated public servants who have not received a raise or cost of living increase in the two and a half years since he took over as City Manager.
“It has been a privilege and an honor to serve with these people,” he said. “The dedication and the service to this community they have shown by putting in 10 to 12 hours days when they all know there are no raises in sight for them.”