Commerce: Budget Woes No More

By Gloria Angelina Castillo, EGP Staff Writer

The Commerce City Council on Tuesday night unanimously approved a balanced budget of nearly $52 million for the 2013-2014 fiscal year, which started July 1.

This budget marks a turnaround for the city which has for the last four years applied different strategies to deal with decreases in revenue.

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Finance Director Vilko Domic presented the 2013-2014 fiscal budget before it was approved at Tuesday’s council meeting. (www.ci.commerce.ca.us)

An increase in revenues has given the city a projected surplus over half a million dollars, which will help augment department deficiencies resulting from previous budget cuts.

Commerce Finance Director Vilko Domic told the city council Tuesday, expenditures are nearly $700,000 less than expected revenue. However, $240,000 of the surplus can be attributed to one-time funds and the council was cautioned against using of the funds for expenses that would be on going.

During the budget planning process, $845,000 in added expenditures was added to the budget, in some cases to restore previous cuts in areas such as employee hours, and to fill vacant positions. About $600,000 of the enhancements is for reoccurring items added to the operating budget, according to Domic’s presentation.

Domic thanked the council “for putting up with a lot of aggravation and anxiety over the last 4 years, 5 years, because it was something new to all of us.”

Council members said they are relieved by the new budget numbers.

Mayor Pro Tem Lilia R. Leon said the city was able to “ride the wave when it was lean,” but it now seems the city’s budget is again moving in the right direction.

“We’re getting a little in the black, we’re able to provide things taken away and restore some of them,” Leon said.

Councilmember Tina Baca Del Rio noted that while during past budget negotiations city staff was “looking at the numbers” and council members were “looking at the community,” they were able to meet in the middle.

“Its nice to see we have some money left at the end of the day, now let’s spend it!” Del Rio said jokingly, quickly taking back the spending comment.

Portions of the city’s budget were previously approved at the July 2 council meeting, according to Domic.

However, at the time, negotiations with the city’s employee groups had not yet been settled. Those negotiations have since been concluded and approved by the council.

Voter approved Measure AA funds, a half-cent sales tax expected to raise $4-$5 million annually for infrastructure projects and facility maintenance, are not included in the city’s General Fund budget. Last month, appointments were made to the seven-member Measure AA Advisory Committee that will provide input into how those funds should be spent.

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July 18, 2013  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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