Various city departments presented to Turlock City Council at a special budget workshop on Tuesday, advocating for the use of increased funding to staff previously frozen positions and provide adequate services to residents.
The 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 budgets included a total of 35 frozen positions that were not staffed at the time. Thanks to an unexpected increase in sales tax revenues and the adoption of measure A, the 2021-2022 budget which was approved by the Council in June will now include a general fund supported by a surplus of 5.3 million euros. dollars.
Sales tax revenue exceeded budget estimate by $ 2.5 million (up 17%) and measure A tax revenue exceeded budget by $ 524,606 (up 19% ). General Fund expenditures were $ 3.1 million lower than budget, largely due to vacant posts totaling $ 2.175 million. Of this amount, vacant positions in Public Safety represented $ 1.5 million.
While previous staff freezes have since resulted in reduced levels of service in everything from public safety to park maintenance, the unexpected revenue allowed city departments on Tuesday to make their demands for increased fees. staff that could potentially be included as budget amendments.
On the municipal administration side, the staff proposes to restore the conference and travel budget of the mayor and city council while increasing the budget of the city manager for the same activities. In addition, a training budget for the new city clerk is proposed as well as an increase in the part-time assistance budget for the city clerk and the city attorney.
At the finance department, City staff are requesting the assignment of another accountant, who will help track the work after a recent audit found the department struggling to keep up with the work, as well as funding to create a new workspace for finance employees who are currently using a loaner desk.
Human resources analyst Jessie Dhami said the city’s human resources department is sorely understaffed, with part-time staff working at full-time employee level and receiving benefits and staff. full-time working 12-14 hours a day. According to his request, an increase would create two full-time positions in the human resources division for a total cost of $ 201,881.
With 32 positions to fill for the city by June of next year, HR will need all the help it can get, Dhami said.
Police and firefighters are both looking to receive more funding in the near future, with Acting Police Chief Gary Hampton calling on the city to unfreeze one records technician position and two emergency services dispatcher positions. At an upcoming meeting, Hampton said, the police department will ask council to explore the thaw of two community service officer positions, add officers to the neighborhood resource program, and increase the budget. vehicles and equipment.
Acting Fire Chief Michael Botto told Council that more overtime and staff will be needed to staff the four fire stations throughout the year. The current overtime assignment will expire in mid-October, and an allowance of $ 252,392 is requested to maintain normal staffing levels through the end of the calendar year.
Botto added that Turlock’s fire division currently has 34 firefighters out of 36 available positions, with three more in the process of being hired. Until then, vacancies must be filled with overtime in order to maintain the City’s four-station response system in its entirety.
âAll the elements that we have just identified have been put forward before by the firefighting team. These were all planned need items, but we postponed and delayed where those items are now an immediate need, âBotto said. âSome of these elements are an initial attack where we need to act nowâ¦ We can spend time pointing fingers or blaming, or we can focus all of our collective energy on problem solving and moving forward. the approach go ahead.
Another city department struggling due to understaffing is parks, recreation and public facilities, as its director Allison Van Guilder explained on Tuesday. She requested that the budget include $ 164,872 to fund two more park maintenance workers, an additional $ 164,872 to hire two facility maintenance workers and $ 22,000 to provide double the tree trimming services. that citizens currently receive in public places.
With only four park staff allocated in the current budget, the Parks Department is struggling to keep up with the maintenance of the City’s 25 parks. From landscaping and cleaning up trash to graffiti and other acts of vandalism, the reduction in service affects the parks service’s ability to generate revenue through the rental of facilities, said Van Guilder, many of whom those who rent spaces complain about the state of the parks.
âWe’ve been behind the eight for a long time, so the fact that we’re here now and we’re below what we had 10 years ago is obviously a challenge,â said Van Guilder. about staffing levels.
Tuesday’s presentation also included the Planning Department, which calls for the unfreezing of a planner position, and the Engineering Division, which calls for the unfreezing of six positions and the reclassification of several more.