Roseville City Council says general fund down $9 million

Christmas sales tax revenues not yet in
By: Megan Wood The Press-Tribune
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Prepare for the worst, hope for the best is the word from the Roseville City Council regarding the city budget. City treasurer Russell Branson reported at last week’s council meeting that as of December, the general fund revenue is estimated to be short about $9 million. “It’s hard to know exactly where we stand because I have not received the sales tax revenue totals from the Christmas season,” Branson said. According to Branson, the two figures make up about 65 percent of the city’s revenue, with the other 35 percent coming from various sources including recreational fees, service charges and grants. In spring 2007 the city began making budget cuts and de-funded 14 positions based on figures from the 2006 Christmas season that showed a slowing in sales tax revenue. “It wasn’t increasing at the rate we were used to seeing,” Branson said. “Plus we saw the general economic conditions and based on that, began to prepare for adjustments.” The following fall, the city began to decrease its hiring by declining to fill 16 vacant positions and began to make budget cuts across the board. “Roseville did an excellent job in 2007 taking proactive steps in the budget,” Roseville Mayor Gina Garbolino said. “It would be a lot worse had we not been proactive along the way.” Despite current figures from sales tax revenue and property tax, the city is already exploring its options for the coming year. “We’ve taken all the easy cuts, now we’re into the more difficult decisions,” Branson said. To date the city has left 57 vacant positions unfilled and is looking to do the same to another 50 by the year’s end. As a response to these cuts, the city is looking to realign the remaining staff to ensure the same level of service. “The reality is that we may be closer to 140 de-funded positions and those primarily will come from the general fund, which has 850 positions,” said City Manager Craig Robinson at Wednesday night’s meeting. “It really is a dramatic reduction and a big change in realignments, we’ll need to focus in how we do that.” Longer customer service holds or waits in line for many city services may be a result, but Branson said the city is doing what it can, like introducing automated self check out in public libraries, to maintain the level of service that Roseville citizens are used to. “We are trying to keep this as internal as possible,” Branson said. “We’re not going to stop mowing lawns, the police and the firefighters will still be out in full force. We’re trying not to let this affect the programs.” In addition, early retirement incentives have been offered to eligible employees, overtime costs have been reduced and travel has been cut. Raises for city employees have been put on hold as well as amended contracts to city organizations like the Roseville Firefighters Association that promised incremental raises. “It makes for some difficult conversations, but they are important conversations that need to be had,” Branson said. Garbolino said that the city staff has been very cooperative in understanding the realities that Roseville is facing. The city continues to maintain a number of savings accounts to preserve long-term fiscal health and to ensure completion of projects such as the Cirby/Riverside roadway project, and Maidu Center renovations. “I think it’s a more prudent expectation that we’re in this for the long term and we need to make a long term change,” Branson said of making budget cuts rather than dipping into city savings. “We feel that’s a safer approach than ‘it will be better next year, we hope.’” Branson will present another update on the mid-year projections of the budget at the Feb. 18 city council meeting. Next year’s budget will be presented in May and be made available to the public. Community meetings to discuss the 2010 budget are scheduled in June.