Because the Measure O sales tax enhancement carries the city through March 2015, the preliminary 2014-2015 budget presented by Oakdale City Manager Bryan Whitemyer at the Monday, June 2 city council meeting didn’t foresee any service cuts.
“If not for the current Measure O, the city would be facing insolvency and would not be able to maintain the present public safety services and staffing levels,” said Whitemyer. “We’ve cut our costs and services and we’re set to move forward.”
Referring to the budget as a “complex document” that manages the revenues and expenditures of 81 separate city accounts, Whitemyer went in depth to inform the public of general fund expenditures and specific, restricted fund expenditures.
“This means that funds collected from the ratepayers for water services must only be used for water purposes and cannot be used for any other purpose even if there is another area of the city that is lacking funding,” Whitemyer said. “By law, I can’t comingle the funds.”
As an example Whitemyer used the Yum Corporation and its subsidiaries of Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and Kentucky Fried Chicken.
“In this way the City of Oakdale is somewhat like Yum Brands in that it is a municipal corporation that has subsidiary operations that by law must be treated as separate enterprises,” Whitemyer said. “If something happens at Pizza Hut, they can’t take funds from Taco Bell to pay for it. The same is for Oakdale. I can’t take sewer funds to pay for general fund expenditures.”
Funds from the proposed sales tax measure for the November ballot, tentatively Measure Y, were not figured into the last quarter of the budget because the measure has not been passed.
The 2014-2015 budget had $27.5 million in revenue and just over $28 million in expenditures.
As part of the presentation, Public Services Director Thom Clark reviewed some capital improvement projects including $1 million for city well number 10 and some staff reorganization.
Part of the reorganization included hiring of a public works supervisor funded from water and sewer funds, a parks maintenance person, and adding two street maintenance persons that would be funded by the gas tax fund.
Public Safety was also part of the presentation.
Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Chief Randall Bradley’s presentation included how staffing cuts have affected the department from a daily staffing of four firefighters on duty in 2009, to now two, but with an additional person from Oakdale Rural at each station.
“This is the lowest level to date,” Bradley said as he explained that a once $3.1 million budget for Oakdale in 2009 dropped to now $2.4 million.
Bradley also discussed the proposed contracting for services which is set for discussion at the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire District’s next meeting on Thursday, June 5.
Police Chief Lester Jenkins had a similar presentation showing the police department was once at 27 full-time officers to now a daily staffing of only two officers on the street with a patrol sergeant supervising.
“We’re 32 percent down from our high point,” Jenkins said. “If anything large happens now, they have to call in off-duty officers, and that includes any administrative staff too.
Jenkins said he felt his staff was operating at its maximum capability but that the department was “proud, capable and won’t let anything happen.”
During council discussion Councilman Mike Brennan made a plea to citizens on the importance of Measure Y passing to help the city avoid any future cuts in personnel as well as erosion of the city’s infrastructure from subsequent neglect.
“We need to pass that tax,” Brennan said. “If we don’t do it for the city, the state and feds aren’t going to help us out.”
Because only three of the five council members were present, Councilmen Farrell Jackson and Tom Dunlop were absent, Mayor Pat Paul reserved passing the adoption of the proposed budget until a full council was on the dais.