San Ramon leaders are hoping to bring in public feedback as they continue to pare down the city's budget to stave off ongoing overspending that's predicted to continue until 2018, according to a budget forecast.
The city spent $1.9 million more than it's expected to bring in during the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. Revenues were $49.2 million, and expenditures were $51.5 million, with an additional draw down of $500,000 for health care.
Nearly all of those who attended a [public workshop on the budget Tuesday night were tied to the city. In addition to members of City Council, the workshop brought out a number of employees and volunteers, including Planning Commission Member Harry Sachs, who asked the only question at the public forum.
Sachs questioned the origin of a predicted 5 percent increase in health benefit costs; Administrative Services Director Eva Phelps explained the figure was from a consultant, and based on previous increases.
Without cuts, the draw down to San Ramon's reserves was projected to be 3.3 million in the upcoming fiscal year, beginning July 1. To balance the budget, each department was asked to propose a list of cuts that would total $5.3 million, about 10 percent of the annual budget; a list of 118 items ranging from $200,000 for earthquake insurance to $250 for printing services.
The City Council has already cut more than $890,000 from the budget, with a commitment to cut a total of $1.3 million. Earthquake insurance was among the first to go, since San Ramon, like other cities, has additional coverage.
City officials are also looking into raising revenues by $300,000, largely by increasing fees. They're also considering offering incentives to encourage employees to retire and shifting more health care and retirement costs to employees.
Although everyone at the meeting had ties to the city, Mayor Bill Clarkson pronounced it a success because it allowed people the option of finding out about the deficit and the plan to address it.
Five more community budget workshops are planned: from 10 a.m. to noon on Feb. 9 at the San Ramon Community Center, and from 7 to 9 p.m. on Feb. 21, March 11, March 20 and April 17. The Feb. 21 workshop will be at the Dougherty Valley Community Center; the March 11 workshop will be at the San Ramon Community Center, and the final two will be at the Alcosta Senior Center.
The budget forecast predicted the trend of drawing on the city's reserves to continue through June 30, 2018. Without spending cuts or revenue increases, the city's deficit would peak in the 2014/15 fiscal year. San Ramon's deficit would hit $4.7 million that year, including another half-million dollars for health care and $1.5 million dollars to pay down bond debt.
Without changes, San Ramon's reserves would drop to about $10.9 million by the 2017/18 fiscal year, according to the forecast.