At the June 3, 2013 meeting, the San Leandro City Council unanimously voted to adopt the City Manager's Proposed Biennial Budget for fiscal years 2013-14 and 2014-15. The new budget, which took effect July 1, allocates $125 million in the 2013-14 fiscal year and $127 in the 2014-15 fiscal year to promote services, programs, and projects. The balanced budget is based on limited program changes and a slight increase in personnel attributed, in part, to increased economic development staffing. As in previous years' budgets, no wage increases for City staff are included as part of the plan. This also means that program reductions made in past years have not, for the most part, been restored.
Mayor Stephen Cassidy stated, "For the first time in the City's history, we are adopting a two-year budget. Moving to a Biennial Budget is important in achieving long-term fiscal stability. It's a procedural mechanism that can have significant and positive impact in ensuring we operate in a fiscally prudent manner by adopting budgets that are balanced for two years."
City Manager Chris Zapata commented, "The two year budget truly highlights the City Council's support for community partnerships by investing new money in neighborhoods, business and increased funding for our non-profits to meet urgent needs for those less fortunate. The structural deficit will remain a challenge in future budgets."
Finance Director David Baum added, "The Biennial Budget begins to address unfunded liabilities for City street repair, pension and retiree medical costs. Fortunately, sales tax and other important revenues are rebounding, making it possible to meet the City's obligations."
The Biennial Budget meets the challenge of costs rising faster than revenues, while responding to the community's service needs, by allocating $1.635 million of reserves toward San Leandro Hospital, a Community Investment Program and other needs. The Community Investment Program includes a dedication of $135,000 for non-profit community service organizations (on top of $97,000 from the Federal Community Development Block Grant program) and $100,000 to be used to strengthen neighborhoods through cleanups, lighting, historic preservation, events, public art and beautification.
Growing costs incorporated in the Biennial Budget include legacy pension and health care obligations in connection with maintaining a workforce that is nearly 20% less than earlier in the decade. The budget was aided by the current year's projected 5.9% growth in the largest source of revenue (sales tax) and the refinancing of high interest debt, which will save $1.8 million in interest expense.
The new budget is balanced thanks largely due to the support of San Leandro residents who supported Measure Z, the quarter cent sales tax increase, implemented April 1, 2011. This new infusion of revenue helped to reduce the need to make more drastic cuts in programs and services provided to the community. Measure Z is scheduled to sunset on March 31, 2018.
For more information about the City's Biennial Budget, please refer to the adopted budget document at https://www.sanleandro.org/civica/filebank/blobdload.asp?BlobID=14286. The City’s Budget in Brief may be found at http://www.sanleandro.org/civica/filebank/blobdload.asp?BlobID=13989.