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Mid-Year Budget Review Promising
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Just a few short years ago budget reviews meant doom and gloom for a city that had to cut emergency services, street lighting and sweeping, and threatened closure of its senior center. The 2015-2016 budget review this year by Oakdale City Manager Bryan Whitemyer to the city council at its meeting on Monday, Nov. 2 indicated stability and optimism as the city attempts to recover from the economic downturn at the beginning of the decade.

Whitemyer told the council that the previous year’s budget had $616,894 higher revenues than foreseen and, despite the higher income, city spending was $302,799 less than anticipated – nearly a $1 million variance for coffers in the city’s favor.

“These figures are positive signs that the economy is strengthening and city staff is making efforts to spend less than what is budgeted,” Whitemyer said.

Whitemyer also said that had it not been for the revenue gained from the sales tax initiatives of Measures O and Y, the city would have run into a deficit.

“I want to thank the citizens of Oakdale for being responsible and recognizing the needs of the city,” Whitemyer said.

The breakdown of the added sales tax revenues shows 58 percent going to police expenditures, 33 percent going to fire, five percent for street lighting, two percent to the senior center, and one percent each for street sweeping and the community center.

Whitemyer pointed out that over 90 percent of Measure Y funds were going to public safety.

“That’s over 95 percent if you include street lighting which I think is part of public safety,” Whitemyer said.

With the final 2015-2016 budget for the city come added expenditures from the gained revenue.

In addition to increasing the police department’s staffing with the addition of three officer positions, the city added $30,000 for costs associated with the new SAFER grant that will bring three new firefighters to Oakdale.

Because of vandalism and wire thefts to street lights and signals, Whitemyer said the city added $10,000 to those budgets to cover the expenses for repair or replacement. The city was also forced to add $80,000 to costs associated with the state-mandated remediation of the old dump site at Valley View Park.

Whitemyer closed the presentation addressing the “deferred maintenance” of city buildings and properties, its infrastructure, and vehicle fleet that the city implemented as a result of the prolonged economic downturn.

He informed the council that a continued practice to not perform the needed repairs and upkeep could lead to asset deterioration and ultimately asset impairment resulting in higher costs, asset failure, and in some cases, health and safety implications.

“When we fell on tough economic times, we cut back on several services,” Whitemyer said, in reference to parks, streets, city trees, and building and vehicle maintenance. “There are several city assets out there that are in dire need of repair.”

He described many of the assets as the “face of the city” that the city could be judged on by visitors and potential businesses moving into Oakdale.

Whitemyer said it will be a challenge for the city and they need to keep looking for ways to fund the maintenance of its infrastructure and equipment.