Mayor Swearengin Presents ‘Crossroads’ FY 2013 BudgetProposal Calling for Maintaining Current Services, Reducing Personnel Expenses

FRESNO – Mayor Ashley Swearengin today presented a proposed fiscal year 2012-13 budget that calls for maintaining current service levels but reducing employee expenses to address a $16 million budget shortfall.

“This proposal represents a crossroads for our City,” Mayor Swearengin said. “If agreements are reached with employee groups, it marks the end of service reductions and painful downsizing that have characterized the last four years. And, it potentially marks the beginning of the City’s steady march toward fiscal stability.”

In preparing the proposed FY 2013 budget, Mayor Swearengin said the Administration evaluated two paths to addressing the continuing shortfall:

  1. Further reductions in city services, resulting in more employee layoffs; or
  2. Maintenance of the current service and workforce levels with a reduction in expenses through salary concessions and changes to the City’s benefit programs.

“Given the deep service and personnel cuts the City has already implemented, it would be irresponsible to the public we serve, as well as to our employees, to propose another $16 million in General Fund service and personnel reductions,” Mayor Swearengin said.

“Frankly, there are not $16 million in further service and personnel reductions to be found in the General Fund. Even if every fire station, park, community center and pool were closed, the savings would not begin to fill the budget gap this year. And, the consequences to our community of such an approach would be devastating.”

Mayor Swearengin said the City has had to address a $100 million budget shortfall over the last three and a half years and has done so primarily by reducing expenses. The City still faces a $16 million shortfall despite the fact it has reduced its workforce by 25 percent citywide and 33 percent among General Fund departments.

The City also has eliminated programs and personnel, as well as deferred building and equipment maintenance and equipment purchases. In addition, the City has increased its reliance on volunteers for park maintenance, community center operation and for various functions in the Police Department.

If the $16 million shortfall is not addressed, it will grow to a $54 million deficit over the next five years, Mayor Swearengin said.

The Administration’s budget proposal calls for:

  • Achieving approximately $12 million in savings from personnel expenses;
  • Recognizing a total of $1.5 million in savings from police officer attrition. The City has budgeted for 748 police officers in FY 2013, with an additional 2 positions slated to attrit next year;
  • Recognizing $600,000 in savings from the two-year Staffing For Adequate Fire & Emergency Response (SAFER) grant;
  • Recognizing $830,000 in revenue from increased planning fees;
  • Recognizing $250,000 in revenue from the Building Permit surcharge;
  • Recognizing $49,600 in General Fund savings and $351,200 in Community Development Block Grant funding by reducing the Senior Hot Meals from 15 sites to 5 (although the number of meals provided will only be reduced by 20%); and
  • Recognizing the increase in the Commercial Solid Waste franchise fee of $700,000.

Mayor Swearengin added that while much of the debate surrounding the FY 2013 budget will be focused on the reductions still needed, it is important to equally focus on the programs and services which are proposed in the Administration’s General Fund budget, such as:

  • Maintaining current service and staffing levels across the organization;
  • Funding a minimum of 746 police officers who will continue their focus on reducing violent and property crime;
  • Keeping every fire station open and, thanks to some Federal grant funding, adding three sworn staff on a daily basis resulting in a fourth firefighter on three different apparatus;
  • Keeping every park open and improving service levels to a constant two-week maintenance cycle across the City’s entire park system;
  • Increasing funding for pothole repair and street maintenance with local, state and Federal transportation dollars;
  • Deploying $358.6 million in capital projects primarily for public utilities and public works;
  • Completing the theft deterrent program for all remaining City streetlights that have not yet been retrofitted with the anti-theft mechanisms and repairing one-third of the streetlights that are currently out;
  • Fully funding the City’s Graffiti Abatement program; and
  • Expanding litter control program, which will provide litter control on approaches to freeway on-ramps and off-ramps.

Mayor Swearengin will present the budget proposal to City Council on Thursday, May 31. In addition, administration officials will present a review of the City’s fiscal position to Council the same day. The review will include a discussion covering the City’s various funds (including negative fund balances), cash reserves, core services and the Fiscal Sustainability Policy.

City Council will begin hearings on the budget proposal on June 11. Council must pass the City’s budget by June 30.

Read the Mayor's Proposed Budget
Watch Press Conference

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