The council finalized the budget with a few changes from the tentative draft first presented in April, electing to add three new police officer positions and one code enforcement officer. Although the changes will cost the city more in the end, the council agreed that the city’s safety was a priority, Mayor Geno Martini told the Sparks Daily Tribune after Tuesday’s meeting.
Martini said he is “happy” with the final budget picture.
“We’ve been very proactive,” Martini said. “We’re out in front of those cuts. I’m happy. We’re doing a good job with what we have.”
The city administration and staff will continue to search for grants and opportunities to bring in more funds throughout the year, he said, but at least the public safety positions are finalized.
“I’m most proud of the fact that we were able to afford the fire, police officers and code enforcement officer positions,” Martini said. “Those are critical for Sparks. Public safety is No. 1 for us.”
The city’s final budget calls for spending $19.9 million on police and $14.5 million on fire services next fiscal year. Both department budgets did not change significantly, even with the additional staffing changes. In general, the city will spend $34.6 million on its public safety functions, which will far exceed any other department in the municipality.
The city will be working with nearly $580,500 less in revenue in the next fiscal year, according to projections.
Ron Schmitt, the only council member to dissent on the final vote, gave no reason publicly for his opinion, only saying he did not agree with holding a separate meeting to finalize the budget.
The council also decided not to include committing any money to a stabilization fund in the next fiscal year, saving the city $200,000.
The effect of the changes resulted in an unrestricted ending fund balance with the General Fund equal to 8.1 percent of expenditures, said Jeff Cronk, the city’s financial services director. This was about $125,000 under the fiscal policy goal of 8.3 percent.
Schmitt asked Cronk where he thought the city would end up this fiscal year.
“We’re looking to end up in the 11.5 to 11.7 range in the general fund balance, but we’re looking to draw that back down,” Cronk said.
Schmitt said he was concerned that the city was already projected to be $700,000 upside down next year.
“Adding everything else on, it burns any fund balance quite rapidly,” Schmitt said. “It leaves us scrambling in the next 12 months to cut the budget again.”
“The storm clouds are there. We still have some work to do as far as balancing the revenues and expenditures,” Cronk said.
The final budget must now be submitted to the state for final approval by June 1.
“The Financial Services Department believes the attached document fully complies with those requirements as established by the Department of Taxation,” according to the city’s staff report.