A well-used binder in Oakdale City Manager Bryan Whitemyer’s office contains frayed pages, many marked by various colors of Post-it Notes for quick reference. When talking about its contents, Whitemyer can rapidly turn to a page and spew the numbers like a seasoned bean counter. The pages inside: the City of Oakdale 2013-2014 annual budget.
“My goal is to get the city into the black,” Whitemyer said.
Whitemyer, who took the role of city manager for Oakdale in February after a long line of interims, hit the ground running, going after the financial issues that were plaguing the city.
Whitemyer pointed out that the city had been using its reserves for the general fund from 2007 through 2012.
“That’s something we can’t do any longer,” Whitemyer said.
Whitemyer also said that he has to plan on budgeting with the city’s revenue stream after March 2015 when the Measure O sales tax initiative expires. The half-cent sales tax increase brings in $1.2 to $1.5 million to the city.
“If the residents want to bring it back after March 2015, that’ll be great,” Whitemyer said, “but I have to prepare for if it’s not. A family doesn’t prepare its household budget on hopes of a promotion.”
Whitemyer said he wants the budget to have a core set of objectives and is also looking into other variables that are going to affect the city’s operating costs such as employee healthcare.
“What’s Obamacare really going to cost?” Whitemyer asked.
Whitemyer praised the city’s current budget for being able to adapt to changes and taking into account changes.
“We have to focus on what’s truly of greater importance for the city to function,” Whitemyer said. “Sometimes, we have to decide if the matter fits into our top priorities. We may have to say ‘Sorry, we’re not going to be able to do it.’”
One of Whitemyer’s accomplishments he claims is getting the city’s management structure “right sized” by eliminating some department head positions. He is proposing a single Public Services Director position to head departments that each had their own director. (See related story on council meeting.)
“We’ve set ourselves to go forward in the future,” Whitemyer said.
Among the cuts were other personnel losses and the city has gone down from 100 fulltime employees to its current roster of 77.
“I hope the citizens understand we have to do everything differently,” Whitemyer said, using the example of a once four-inch water pipe having to transfer the same volume but now through a two-inch water pipe. “We don’t have the financial resources we once had.”
Whitemyer also looks to the city’s future growth as a way of revenue generation with bringing retail business into the city.
“In the past, we added homes that required services but did not keep up with retail facilities,” Whitemyer said. “The General Plan is coming up and it’s one of the most important documents for the city.”
Whitemyer is also travelling with the Chamber of Commerce to the International Council of Shopping Centers conference in San Diego for one day to highlight Oakdale’s opportunities.
“I’m going to get the word out and build relationships,” Whitemyer said. “We have 21,000 in population and 15 million cars that come through on (Highway) 108.”
Whitemyer said that without the General Plan in place he won’t be able to give exact data but in one year to 18 months, the city should have new designated areas.
The city will be having a special meeting on the upcoming General Plan to direct the city’s growth through 2030 on Thursday, Aug 8 at 5 p.m. in the city council chambers.
As the city moves forward, Whitemyer is confident the city will remain stable.
“We may have financial problems, but we’re not going to give up on Oakdale,” he said.