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LEMOORE — The City of Lemoore finance committee has submitted a proposed budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal year, and the finance director and council seem to be happy with it.

At the City Council study session Tuesday, Chief Financial Officer Heather Corder went through a brief rundown of the city’s proposed budget. She said the finance committee had been diligently working on the proposed budget since January.

The budget committee was comprised of Corder, Acting City Manager Darrell Smith, Assistant to the City Manager Michelle Speer and city accountant Jenarae Benavente. Corder said it was an “intense” 45 to 50 hours the committee spent together going through every line item, so much so that a few committee members even dreamed about the budget.

Corder said there are $11,434,330 in projected revenues in the general fund and $11,317,153 in projected expenditures, meaning the city could have $117,180 left in the general fund if everything goes as planned next fiscal year, which starts on July 1 of this year and ends on June 30, 2018.

In a breakdown of where all this general fund money is coming from, Corder showed council a pie chart that showed 21 percent of general fund revenues come from property taxes, 23 percent come from “other” taxes, 7 percent from licenses and permits, 5 percent from charges for services, 22 percent from intergovernmental revenue, 1 percent from interest and 21 percent from miscellaneous revenues and reimbursements.

Corder also showed council a pie chart of where all the money from the general fund goes. She said 54 percent goes to public safety — which she said is normal for most cities — 16 percent goes to administration, 6 percent goes to community development, 16 percent goes to parks and recreation and 8 percent goes to public works.

In a more concise breakdown, that means $5.6 million for police, $1 million to parks and recreation, $433,510 to public works, $505,590 to the city manager’s department, $298,582 to development services, $591,650 to the finance department and $435,510 to the fire department.

Corder was excited to announce that $830,000 of expenses was removed from the general budget when she and her team went though the budget line-by-line with each department director and their staff.

“We talked about what our overall goal as a city was,” Corder said. “Our goal was to bring a balanced budget and not cut services, and we were able to meet that goal.”

Not only were cuts made in the general budget, but Corder said she was proud to say every department made a total of $1,941,532 in cuts. She said to cut that amount of money was “incredible” and was almost 8 percent of the total budget.

The cuts came from every department director going through their budgets, being frugal, and taking out things they did not absolutely need. Then the finance department reviewed the department budgets and asked if they could make do with even less, Corder said.

One highlight about the budget is that the police department was able to add a full-time officer with no impact on the general fund budget. Smith, who is also the police chief, said he was able to do this by pursuing hiring grants. Another highlight is the recreation department created over 30 new programs with a small effect on the general fund.

Members of council expressed their satisfaction with the budget Corder and the finance department put together. Councilman Dave Brown said it showed the effort and teamwork all the departments went through, and council members Jeff Chedester and Holly Blair commended the layout of the budget and its ease of bring understood. 

“I’m very proud of [the budget] and I’m very proud of my entire team and everybody in the city that helped put this together,” Corder said. “The finance committee also was key to creating this balanced budget.”

In an effort to be as transparent as possible, a copy of the entire budget, the budget in brief and a cost allocation plan are online for any resident to see. A public hearing will be held during the next regular council meeting on Tuesday, June 6, seeking any public comments before the proposed budget is adopted.

If everything goes as planned and the city does end up with money left over at the end of next fiscal year, council gets to decide whether to put the money into a reserve account or do something else with the funds.

The reporter can be reached at 583-2423 or jzavala@hanfordsentinel.com

News Reporter

News reporter for The Sentinel

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