SUISUN CITY — City Council members all said Tuesday during their annual budget workshop that they would like to restore, at least partially, the salary cuts city employees took to help the city weather the Great Recession.
“We need to return at least maybe some of the salary cuts,” said Mayor Pete Sanchez, suggesting to return 2 percent of what was a 5 percent cut that city employees took during the recession.
Other council members agreed, noting that city employees were overworked trying to keep up service levels despite lesser numbers of them available because the city also kept a good number of vacancies unfilled. It was estimated that it would cost about $292,200 to restore city employee concessions.
That wish may not be immediately granted since the tentative 2014-15 fiscal year budget they are studying is expected to collect nearly $9.3 million in ongoing revenues while expected to spend nearly $10.1 million. City officials expect to use reserves to make ends meet.
“This is one of the more challenging budgets to prepare,” City Manager Suzanne Bragdon said.
That is partially because the expected $1.1 million annual increase in city revenues from the opening of Walmart did not occur this year because the retailer’s opening was delayed for more than nine months. For the past five years, reserves were used in a bridging strategy to tide the city over until Walmart opened.
The city is also still fighting the state Department of Finance over $1.75 million in redevelopment money. While Bragdon said she feels Suisun has a strong case, the city budget was built on the assumption that this money would not be available.
Tuesday night’s workshop was about giving city staff direction on what kind of budget to being back to the council June 10 for public hearings.
The council was not supportive of a proposal from Republic Services, formerly Solano Garbage, to do the town’s street sweeping in return for cutting out the landfill vouchers that residents get. Councilwoman Lori Wilson said residents she talked to liked the idea of the vouchers.
Council members asked staff to come back with more information about the pros and cons of raising the city’s animal licensing fees to offset the $174,000 that Suisun City pays Solano County for animal control.
Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ithompsondr.