The 2017-2018 draft budget presented to the Ridgecrest City Council shows a balanced general fund, but the presentation by Assistant Finance Director Tess Sloan left more questions than answers, literally. Sloan told council because she was presenting the budget for Finance Director Tyrell Staheli (who was on leave) she would not answer any questions.
The draft budget presented did not include funding for additional city manager support staffing, “other critical staffing,” GSA funding, economic development or several other items discussed during the last year.
“Since the finance director is on leave, I am going to be presenting the power point presentation that he prepared,” Sloan said. “The presentation is basically an overview of the proposed draft budget for the fiscal year 2018.”
“Are you taking questions now or would you rather wait for them for the end?” Mayor Peggy Breeden asked early on.
“At the end,” Sloan replied.
However, when the presentation was over she said, “I am sure you have lots of questions, but since I am just the messenger right now I am not involved during the development of this budget. Please save your questions for the budget meeting that you guys are about to schedule.”
The budget is available for viewing online at
The 2017-2018 draft budget presented by Sloan showed a beginning general fund balance of $3,344,156, with revenue at $14,713,365 and expenditures of $14,701,054 for an ending net annual activity amount of $12,311. This would leave an ending balance of $3,356,467 to be carried over to the next year.
The largest source of revenue for the city is taxes, with property tax projected to bring in $2,008,000, sales and use tax $3,480,000, Measure L/Measure V $4,000,000, real property transfer $70,000, business license $160,000, franchise $695,000 and transient occupancy tax $1,300,000.
The largest projected expenditure is $7,007,281 for public safety, followed by $2,118,759 in transfers out and $1,701,601 for parks and safety.
In addition to the general fund, the draft budget also gave projections for other funds, as follows: The gas tax fund shows net annual activity of $53,062 for an ending balance of $121,514; the transit fund shows net annual activity of - $52,638 for an ending balance of $651,630; the wastewater fund shows net annual activity of $4,578,440 for and ending balance of $17,006,750, the transportation development act article 8 fund shows net annual activity of $200 for an ending balance of $116,155; the supplemental law enforcement services AB3229 fund shows no net annual activity for a closing balance of $29,484; the self insurance fund shows net activity of - $222,914 for a closing balance of $1,004,051; the workers compensation fund (which began with a deficit balance) shows net annual activity of $25,000 for an ending balance of $17,238; the fleet maintenance fund shows net annual activity of $36,629 for an ending balance of $245,109; the law enforcement impact fee fund shows net annual activity of $74,285 for an ending balance of $191,840; the city debt service fund shows no net activity for an ending balance of $751,359; and the successor RDA fund shows net annual activity of - $923,291 for an ending balance of $9,577,874.
“I have a lot of questions, but I suspect we are not going to get answers tonight so we will do them at our budget hearing,” Breeden said after Sloan's announcement.
Council discussed sending the budget to the city finance committee, but ultimately decided to go ahead and schedule budget meetings instead.
“Ideally, we would have liked to have seen it in the finance committee before it was presented to the council,” Councilwoman Lindsey Stephens said. “I would say at this time, lets just go with the budget hearings and all hear it at this time.”
Council ultimately decided to tentatively schedule two budget meetings for Tuesday May 30 and Wednesday May 31 at 5 p.m. They also requested that department heads and/or managers be present to explain their budget input.
According to Speer, there has been some leeway in council's budget approval process, but council decided to try to bring the budget back to their June 7 regular meeting for approval after the special budget meetings.
“I think it would be appropriate to approve it at a regular council meeting,” Mayor Pro Tem Michael Mower said.
According to City Manager Dennis Speer, the ultimate deadline is June 30 because state law requires the budget to be adopted by that date.