DOWNEY - While California's dire economy struggles to recover, city officials are continuing their efforts to finalize the city's budget and mitigate a nearly $3 million deficit.As a result of the city's more than $30 million reserve fund, no deep cuts are expected. "Management has the difficult task of cutting $3 million from the budget," said Councilman Mario Guerra, who sits on a City Council subcommittee dedicated to reducing the deficit. "The good thing is that we don't plan on any layoffs or furloughs - but the hiring freeze is still in effect." Guerra acknowledged that the city earned about $1.2 million more than anticipated last year, and maintained that the 2010-2011 fiscal year would call for a much tighter budget. "We're going to have to dip into our reserves," said Guerra over the phone. "We have this rainy day fund in case it rains and - it's raining outside. We have 30 - some odd - million dollars from being a conservative city. We're not using it for everyday purposes, not for payroll, but [to mitigate] the deficit." Guerra, who sits on the subcommittee with Councilman David Gafin, said the city's 2010-2011 budget hovers around $140 million and includes more than $46 million in stimulus funds for capital improvements such as street repairs and public safety items. "We're comfortable - happy as we can be, but it's not pretty," Guerra said. "The city had to write a check to the state for $1.4 million in redevelopment funds. That's now money we can't use." Citing the Council's recent decision to provide $1 million in funds to help establish a Chrysler/Jeep dealership in the city, Guerra ensured that the city would continue to be aggressive concerning sales tax revenue by courting more business establishments. Guerra said that the 2010-2011 budget is still a working, living document, being modified as needed. The final budget will go before the City Council for a vote in the coming weeks. "We will use about $3 million out of our funds so we don't have to cut any major positions," Guerra said. "David and I feel very comfortable with the management and with what they're proposing - they're making cutbacks. We're just trying to be as frugal and strategic as we can."
********** Published: June 17, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 9