Pleasanton Weekly

News - March 5, 2010

Dublin projects up to $4.6-million budget shortfall for 2010-11

State 'takeaways' and slowing economy taking their toll on city revenue

by Jeb Bing

A special budget report reviewed by the Dublin City Council shows declining future revenue projections and a reported budget shortfall of as much as $4.67 million in Fiscal Year 2010-11.

City Manager Joni Pattillo reported that needs for essential city services continue to exceed revenues. She said the city has already had to utilize one-time economic uncertainty reserves to balance the current budget.

"This growing deficit will affect our ability to maintain current levels of service to the community in the long term," Pattillo said.

The $4.67 million budget gap does not include more than $2 million in state takeaways from Dublin this year or any future state takeaways that are currently being discussed in Sacramento, Pattillo added.

The city's ongoing budget problems are primarily due to the lagging economy which has negatively impacted property and sales tax revenues, she explained. These two funding sources together make up over 70 percent of the city's operating revenues.

In the last two years, Dublin's sales tax revenues have rolled back to less than what was received in 2001 and property tax revenues per capita have decreased by 13 percent.

"Many people don't realize that the city is only allowed to keep 24 cents out of every property tax dollar and only 10 cents from every dollar collected in sales tax," said Pattillo. "For its part, Dublin has already slashed millions in city operating expenses to address the budget gap in its previous year and current year budgets."

"However, the city cannot continue to maintain current service levels without putting a substantial strain on emergency reserve funds," she added. "Without additional revenue, the city will be forced to examine cuts in services."

"We are focused on trying to protect and maintain the services that the community relies on, such as the number of firefighters and paramedics needed to keep emergency response times short, saving lives," Pattillo said. "While we want to protect and maintain our emergency responses times, the city can't ignore the fact that more than half of Dublin's operating budget is comprised of costs relating to public safety and these budget areas must be examined."

"Dublin's population includes a significant number of seniors who depend on the city having reliable emergency response services," the city manager noted. "It would be devastating if we could not meet the needs of all of our families, including our senior population."

The City Council will be taking up the budget discussion again in April and will continue to get input from the community on its priorities for Dublin.

"It is important we hear from residents on what types of services they want protected as we address these serious budget issues," Pattillo said.

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