By Kathy Lee Scott/Garden Grove Journal
By tapping into rainy day funds, freezing wages and hires, the City of Garden Grove has a balanced $162.4 million budget for 2010-11. It approved the financial plan unanimously at Tuesday’s meeting of the Garden Grove City Council.
“We had a significant drop in all our tax revenue,” said Finance Director Kingsley Okereke. Even with a cut of $5.35 million in the current budget, plus salary freezes, the city faced a $4.5 million deficit for the 2010-11 fiscal year.
“We used our reserves to cover the deficit,” Okereke said.
For the upcoming year, the staff found new sources of funding: selling land, keeping unfilled staff positions open longer and reducing consultant fees. “We’ll defer buying big-ticket items,” Okereke said, such as vehicle purchases and building improvements.
In the upcoming fiscal year, 46 positions will remain vacant. The savings for this strategy equals $3.6 million. Spending less on consultant fees means $627,000 in savings. Another $92,000 came from giving up staff training, according to the finance director.
One-time money will come from selling the Century Triangle property ($2.3 million), drawing $1 million from each of the vehicle replacement and development impact fee funds and taking $4 million from the city’s reserves.
Other tactics to balance the budget include offering eligible staff early retirement and adjusting the paramedic tax.
Several components make up the total budget, some of which needed separate votes. All passed 5-0.
One is the Water Supply Program budget, which has $36.95 million in available funds. Of that, $34.92 million will be spent on the various operations, leaving a balance of $2.03 million by June 2011.
The water division anticipates generating almost $34.5 million from customers for the year, who will see a scheduled 5-percent water rate increase.
The city has requested $13.6 million in various grants, including the Community Development Block Grant, a Federal Public Works one and another for Hazard Elimination Safety. Some come every year, Okereke said. Others are one-time grants.
“If we don’t get them, we won’t spend the money,” he added.
The Garden Grove Sanitary District sewer budget will take in about $13.2 million from customers. Funding its projects will cost $13.2 million.
“Revenues continue to stay strong,” Director of Public Works Keith Jones wrote.
Economic Development Director Chet Yoshizaki reported an anticipated income to the Garden Grove Agency for Community Development of just under $38,5 million, 1.2 percent more than last year.
Of that, $27.8 million will pay for continuing projects. The remainder, $10.7 million, would cover new projects for the 2010-11 fiscal year.
Some of the agency expenditures include tax-sharing agreements with various entities ($2.08 million) as well as paying the state Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund mandate ($1.63 million) and hotel rebates ($3.89 million).
“Six (of nine) hotels have refunded what they got from the city,” said Councilmember Bruce Broadwater.
The agency also markets sites where companies can locate their businesses (International West, Century Triangle, Brookhurst Triangle, among others).
‘I commend the staff for pitching in,” said Mayor William Dalton. “They’ve kept us afloat.”
Councilmember Andrew Do added, “They’ve done their best anticipating the (economic) impact.”