Monday, May 11, 2015

Arcata Weathering the Budget Storm, For Now

Posted By on Mon, May 11, 2015 at 8:04 AM

click to enlarge logo-arcata.png
As other local cities — we’re looking at you, Eureka and Fortuna — contemplate deep budget cuts, it looks like Arcata will be able to hold the line on services, and even tuck a bit of money away for a rainy day.

City staff is proposing a budget — slated to be discussed at study sessions today, Wednesday and Thursday — that’s “very lean and tight,” but balanced. In the face of some $400,000 in increased CalPERS costs, city staff is leaning on an increase in property tax revenue and a proposed reorganization of City Hall to bring its finances into the black, with more than $110,000 slated to bolster the city’s reserves.

Specifically, staff is recommending that the council follow through with new City Manager Karen Diemer’s reorganization plan, which would save some $222,000 in personnel costs, largely through the elimination of seven positions that currently sit vacant: finance department cashier, recreation manager, environmental services secretary, interpretive naturalist, building inspector, youth and family services counselor and a police officer. That, coupled with an almost $550,000 increase in property tax revenue, seems poised to help the city overcome the added CalPERS costs, as well as other increases to the costs of doing business.

“We have the same problems that everybody else has,” said Finance Director Janet Luzzi. “We were just able to cover it this year through the reorganization and the additional revenues.”

But Luzzi also cautioned that — like those in other cities throughout the state — Arcata’s pension costs are expected to increase significantly over the next five years with the mandated paying down of unfunded CalPERS liabilities.
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