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City council discusses new economic development department during budget meeting

City council will vote on final 2011 fiscal year budget June 16
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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For the first time, Roseville has a city department solely devoted to business attraction, retention and expansion. “The City of Roseville has never had a stand-alone economic development department,” said Assistant City Manager John Sprague. Now it does, following a reorganization of the city’s structure. The creation of the economic development department falls in line with the city’s attempt to build a “smaller, leaner and sustainable organization” in the words of City Manager Mike Shellito. The new department was one of several items discussed during a budget review meeting Tuesday, as city council members and staff attempted to figure out how to protect core services, while reducing departmental expenses by $14.7 million for the 2011 fiscal year budget. The new budget goes into effect July 1. Roseville’s general fund has experienced significant revenue loss over the last three years, resulting in a decline of operating revenue from $126 million in 2007 to a projected $103 million for 2011. One way to generate more revenue and sales tax is through job creation, new businesses and cultivating a strong economic development presence in the region, Sprague said. With a $1.2 million budget, the newly created department will focus, in part, on supporting local tourism efforts and integrating economic development considerations with land-use plans. Sports tourism is a huge moneymaker, said councilman Jim Gray. For instance, Roseville will host large national softball events this summer, expected to generate $3 million to $5 million in economic impact. “We have these great opportunities we need to aggressively pursue,” Gray said. During Tuesday’s meeting, the council discussed other cost-saving measures, including the elimination of 55 jobs through redeployment, early retirement incentives and other means. Of those, 19 vacant positions have already been defunded. The city has cut 22 percent of its workforce since 2007, which means the city will “do less with less,” Shellito said during the first part of the budget meeting Monday. Roseville Electric, for instance, is functioning with 20 percent lower staffing. The department has 128 employees, down from 140 in 2009. There are currently 20 vacancies. Roseville — the only city in the region with control over its own electric utility — serves 47,000 residential customers and 6,000 businesses. Those numbers continue to grow, said Roseville Electric Director Michelle Bertolino. The utility has $172 million in expenses projected for 2011 and $123 million of that goes to power supply related costs, which includes buying natural gas and running the power plant. The city council approved a three-step rate increase last year. The first increase went into effect in January and the next one will occur in July. The council will determine this fall if the final increase needs to be implemented, which would happen in January of next year. During the meeting, Parks, Recreation and Libraries acting Director Jeff Dubchansky said his department must reduce 10.5 regular employees to meet its target of $1.31 million in cuts. He said the reductions will be made by eliminating defunded vacant positions and early retirement incentives, but that some layoffs may be necessary in the future. Dubchansky also suggested that the Maidu Library be closed Saturdays and the Downtown Library’s hours be reduced, which together will save the city $32,000 annually. ---------- Public safety was largely spared the chopping block during the City of Roseville’s budget review meeting Tuesday. The city council previously directed police Chief Mike Blair to find an alternative to closing the city jail — as originally proposed — to partly achieve the department’s target of $2.67 million in cuts. Closing the jail and eliminating 11 correctional officer positions through redeployment and early retirement incentives would have saved the city $1 million annually. Blair said his staff is developing a plan to transition from closing the jail by the opening of the Santucci Justice Center jail facility in Roseville in 2012. He said the department will find creative ways to generate revenue, which might include charging other jurisdictions to book misdemeanor crimes in Roseville’s jail. The department has defunded four vacant police officer positions and one vacant records clerk position. Fire Chief Ken Wagner proposed closing the three-person engine company at Fire Station 7, while keeping the four-person truck company operational to save $1.5 million. The truck can respond to 90 percent of calls received by the station. The closure would go into effect Jan. 1, 2011. The department may also defund nine positions, which includes one vacancy and several early retirements. Council members discussed waiting to close the engine company until a comprehensive study of the fire department’s standards and practices is completed in October, but councilman John Allard opposed this idea. “Let’s be honest, reductions have not been fairly spread out,” he said. Allard said if the city doesn’t make $1.5 million in cuts to the fire department, it’s going to have to make additional cuts elsewhere. Shellito suggested the council close the engine company — pending the study’s completion — because of the station’s low-call volume. “This is not a good idea,” Shellito said. “It’s the least of the bad ideas.” The city council will vote on the final 2011 budget Wednesday, June 16. Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com. ---------- City of Roseville’s total budget: $407.2 million General fund: $111.2 million Utilities enterprise funds: $196.9 million Special district funds: $46.9 million Capital improvement project funds: $22.2 million Special revenue and permanent funds: $15.3 million Other enterprise funds: $14.7 million ---------- The Roseville City Council will vote on the final 2011 budget during the next regularly scheduled meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 16, in Civic Center council chambers, 311 Vernon St.