Council adopts $72-million balanced budget
– At the Tuesday night Paso Robles City Council meeting, the council adopted a balanced $72 million operating budget for fiscal year 2015/16, which runs from June to July.
There are approximately 70 different funds in the city finance system, all of varying sizes. The largest categories are the General Fund, the Water Fund, the Sewer Fund and the Airport Fund.
With the recession over and a slow recovery on the way, this latest forecast projects small, but growing, favorable financial results for each of the next four fiscal years, according to a city report. Fiscal year 2015-16, has an increase of only $388,290 from the 2014-15 budget with the majority of the increase coming from increased costs in liability insurance and wage benefits, such as health and retirement. Total expenditures for this new budget is $28,007,395. About 70 percent of General Fund expenses go to salaries and benefits.
New water rates were implemented in phases over five years beginning January 2012. Regardless, reserves are forecasted to decline to approximately $12.5 million this year, due to construction of a new water treatment plant. The treatment plant will be used to treat water from Nacimiento and then blended into the city’s water supply. Future phases, and increasing operating costs, may require additional water rate adjustments.
Rates are estimated to cover only current expenses and debt service, but it is projected that additional increases may be necessary to cover rising costs and additional construction projects, such as replacement of the 80+ year-old west side water tanks. The budget for all water funds, for 2015-16, is $16,023,677.
New sewer rates were approved in 2011 and started in July 2012, with a five-year phase-in period. The new rates are needed to fund ongoing operating deficits and rehabilitation of the treatment plant. Low-interest funding (1.7 percent rate) has been received and construction started in the spring of 2013 and should be completed in Oct. of 2015. The budget for all sewer funds, for 2015-16, is $10,719,776.
The Airport Fund has operated with a surplus each year for the past several years (excluding depreciation). Operational costs are covered by current revenues. The Airport Fund has accumulated approximately $2.4 million in total reserves. The fund is balanced and appears stable, the city reports. The budget for all Airport funds for 2015-16, including capital fund and the facility repair fund, is $1,161,618.
To view the complete financial report, click here.