Interim City Manager Tom Haglund reported to council that finances keep whittling down at a rapid pace. He addressed the city council and a capacity audience on July 31, saying dollar assets have dropped from $10.5 million in June 2018 and, as of June 30 of this year, is down to $2.4 million.
“By June 30 of 2020, we estimate it will be down to $777,574,” Haglund said. “… Short-term efforts will be to reduce expenditures and enhance revenues. We need to act now.”
Midterm and long-term solutions will also have to be addressed, according to Haglund. He said long-term solutions might have to have voter approval.
In June of 2018, then Finance Director Emily Boyd gave a presentation to council on how over $4 million in unassigned funds would be available to begin addressing the long deferred maintenance problems. On Nov. 6, 2018, former City Manager Eugene Palazzo said the $4.4 million would not be available for deferred maintenance but have to be used in the general fund.
The Parks & Rec Department and the Lighting and Landscaping Districts (LLDs) were a focus for Haglund’s remarks. He reported that market funds had dropped from $3.5 million in 2005 to $2.5 million in 2019. To reduce expenditures for the Parks & Rec, four positions have been eliminated. The city has also cut down on park maintenance, with reductions in watering and mowing. Parks & Rec have plans to reduce their expenditures almost $50,000. Haglund also states that the market revenues bring in more than even the city’s revenues from sales tax.
Haglund said it would probably be necessary to close park restrooms Monday through Friday.
According to his report, the LLDs are also draining the general fund.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, the first speaker, Roberta Robbins, addressed the deteriorating conditions in the parks. Resident Denny Rowles was also upset over the plans to reduce funding of the parks.
“We moved here in ’93,” Rowles said. “I came to this city because of the Parks and Recreation. There are ways to generate funds … I hope you have a business plan.”
Resident Denise McCune said she’s lived here for 20 years.
“I’m looking at the city I love and I’m heartbroken,” McCune said. “Our parks and greenways look terrible. Why haven’t we done something? Our city is failing us now.”
Resident Pam Combs said she was very concerned about Carillion Boulevard.
“That place is atrocious,” Combs said. “I hope those boys who mow have protection or they’re going to have poo all over them. What’s going on here?”
Resident Chris Brossman also had questions and comments.
“I look at what we’re doing and I scratch my head,” Brossman said. “Are all the markets in the state failing? I don’t think so. I’m a businessman. If all my numbers were falling, I’d be looking for something else to do. We just had a bunch of wage increases. What I didn’t hear is something about wage cuts. We have a lot of people who want to help. We can’t let them because of liability … Don’t we have lawyers that can find a remedy to that?”
Julie Clark spoke on her concerns.
“The primary thing that bothers me is I keep hearing Parks and Rec is subsidized from the general fund,” Clark said. “I don’t think any other city has that (market) cash cow. Their Parks & Recs are funded completely out of their general funds … And why does the market cost $1 million a year to run? It’s only open two days a week.”
Clark also addressed the wage increases.
“They kind of swept the CalPERS and CalSTRS under the rug until they got their raises,” Clark said. “State employees have had to have furloughs, pay cuts and hiring freezes. When you’re in that position, you don’t take from the citizens the things that make our life here livable and desirable.”
When the public speakers were done, Vice Mayor Shawn Farmer spoke to the issues.
“We’re in a really big mess,” Farmer said. “A lot of us were not here when all this happened … It’s like the city of Galt has partied hard for a very long time. Now we’re getting the hotel bill and cleaning up the trashed hotel. It’s not going to be easy.”
Haglund said this meeting was only informational and would continue to be addressed at future meetings.