CLEARLAKE, Calif. – Despite facing limited resources and dwindling reserves, Clearlake city staff took to the Clearlake City Council a balanced $20.3 million budget on Thursday, which the council unanimously accepted.
It’s the first budget for City Manager Joan Phillipe, who said the document “tells the story of the city.”
That story includes reduced funding from the state, the need to watch every penny and the importance of team work in rebuilding the city’s fiscal health.
The budget document, according to Phillipe, had been in process for many months, and was the focus of special meetings and workshops.
The final version got high praise from council members, including Council member Joyce Overton, who called it the best budget she’s seen in her time on the council.
Phillipe warned the council of challenges ahead.
“We have extremely limited resources,” she said.
Not long after Phillipe arrived last fall, she recommended to the council that they hold a series of workshops to identify goals and a mission statement. The council agreed, and went through those planning steps.
“This budget is based upon that direction that came out of that process,” Phillipe said.
She explained that the state has taken a huge amount of the resources that historically have been allocated to cities and counties.
As a result, the city’s budget is extremely conservative, and doesn’t include some of the revenues the city anticipates receiving from development, according to Phillipe.
Phillipe said the city’s general fund – which this year totals $4.1 million – has virtually no reserve.
She said that the city needs to work as a team – from the council to the staff to community members – to improve Clearlake’s fiscal health.
“We will continue at a staff level to be prudent,” she said, with staff directed to monitor expenditures.
The budget, she said, shows revenues that are slightly up over the last budget year, with expenditures slightly reduced in order to improve the fiscal health of the city.
“Clearly, our work is cut out for us,” she said.
She thanked the staff and department heads for their work on the budget, noting it was a different process than has been used in the past.
It was critically important for the public to be aware of the city’s fiscal condition, Phillipe said. That was a reason for scheduling budget workshops in the evenings, although those sessions were reported to have been sparsely attended.
Phillipe said city staff is available to answer the public’s questions, with the budget document available at the front counter at city hall, 14050 Olympic Drive, for those who want to review it.
“This is a document that, what you see is what you get,” she said.
During public comment, retired Councilman Chuck Leonard – who sat through the budget workshops – commended staff and the council for work on the budget.
“You’ve found a way to keep this city running,” Leonard said.
Mayor Joey Luiz said the budget was well done and well put together.
“We wish we had more in reserve but at least it’s balanced,” he said, noting that he already was worrying about next year, since the city had a small influx of one-time money this year to cushion it.
The council approved the budget resolution 4-0, and also unanimously passed a resolution adopting the appropriations limit for fiscal year 20l2-l3 and designating the formula to be used for the calculation of that limit. Council member Judy Thein was absent.
Email Elizabeth Larson at email@example.com .080912 Clearlake City Council - 2012-13 Budget