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Fairfield council approves budget with no cuts, layoffs

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From page A1 | June 26, 2013 | 1 Comment

FAIRFIELD — The Fairfield City Council approved a budget Tuesday night that leans heavily on Measure P to avoid any cuts or employee layoffs.

The council voted 5-0 to approve the balanced budget without those cuts for the first time in five years. At the same time, they received a warning that things could get dicey once again when the 1 percent sales tax expires in five years.

Council members made no comments while voting after listening to an hour-long report that highlighted how the city got where it is and where it’s headed. Finance Director David White gave a detailed report on how the estimated $12 million to $13 million per year in money from Measure P helped stabilize what would have been an $8.5 million deficit each of the five years it will be in effect.

White’s report showed the city had a surplus of $2.8 million for 2012-13, which he said was thanks to $1.5 million deferred from street maintenance. The fiscal year ends Sunday. The city is projecting a $2.2 million surplus in 2013-14, $1.26 million for 2014-15 and $1.84 million for 2015-16.

Included in the report was how the city has previously cut the work force from 650 to just more than 500 employees and borrowed from other areas in the budget to keep afloat. White said the plan is to build reserves back up to 20 percent by the 2017-18 fiscal year.

“It makes it a challenge to deliver services to the city,” White told the council. “We used a lot of reserve money to get us where we are.”

White warned the council that rising pension and health care costs are coming. Those costs can’t be controlled by the city without employee concessions, White said, which can’t be factored in when projecting costs.

Councilwoman Pam Bertani asked White what can be done to defray those costs in the future when one-time money like the sales tax dries up.

“What do we do when Measure P ends,” Bertani asked. “How do we bridge that gap?”

White didn’t have an answer. He said Fairfield isn’t alone in facing that question. He said economic development and other revenue-building measures are important, but it is still unknown how the economy will rebound in the coming years.

“We are very mindful of it. We don’t like it,” White said. “There are a lot of cities scratching their heads about it.”

Reach Danny Bernardini at 427-6935 or dbernardini@dailyrepublic.net. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/dbernardinidr.

Danny Bernardini

Danny Bernardini

Danny is a newspaper man born and raised in Vacaville. He attended Chico State University and has written for the Enterprise Record and the Reporter. Covers the City of Fairfield, education and crime. A's, Warriors and Saints fan. Listener of vinyl, frequent visitor to the East Bay. Registered "decline to state" voter. Loves a good steak.
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  • General Fadi BasemJune 25, 2013 - 10:20 pm

    So the costs for pensions and health care benefits will continue rising in the future? Sounds like the perfect opportunity for real City Leaders to start making the really hard decisions regarding those areas. The real hard decisions they were hired to do. I wrote the following back in October 21, 2012 prior to the election: "Paying somebody 90% of their last pay level is not sustainable. No freekin way! What happens when somebody retires at 90% of their last pay level? Just cogitate on that for a moment--You have 10 employees and one retires at 90%---now how many can you afford to pay? I'm guessing about 9. Can somebody point out my math error?" Well it's June 2013 and I'm still guessing about 9. Possible cuts to bring the budget into line: I would suggest one such cut right now: since the workforce has been cut from 650 to 500, we now have about 77 percent of the employees we once had. So let's bring all city supervisory pay in line with this 77% figure--and make their pay 77% of what it was. And cut back their benefits a similar ratio. "Negotiations are always going to be tough" ???HUH?? Well Big Boy, that's why you are paid the big bucks. So get in there, get your nose bloody, give your best for the taxpayers who are paying the freight. They deserve it. Of course, in the "back to reality" clip, this is what will happen: The so called "leaders" will encourage their financial backers to print up more campaign mailers and extend or even increase the tax burdens enacted by Measure P. And the pictures of the "leaders" high-fiving each other after successfully boning the taxpayers again will appear in the Daily Republic.

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