(Hesperia)– The City of Hesperia is poised to start Fiscal Year 2011-2012 with a structurally balanced budget. Ensuring that the City begins the year with operating expenditures equal to operating revenues is an essential element in protecting the long term stability of all City operated districts; achieving this is only possible through a 26% reduction in expenditures, including staffing, from Fiscal Year 2010-2011 to offset the continuing decline in revenue.
“This economy has made it a challenge for the City of Hesperia to begin each year with a balanced budget, but only through that practice have we been able to withstand many unexpected financial blows, for example the rapid drop in assessed property values,” said Mayor Mike Leonard. “And this proposed budget allows us to continue operating within our means.”
Beginning the fiscal year with a balanced budget, including only using reserves for one time expenses, facilitates each separate district operating within its financial constraints while being fiscally responsible. The Proposed Fiscal Year 2011-2012 Budget will address the continued decline in revenues, especially plummeting property values through a 6.38% reduction in staffing, including the elimination of nine Firefighter/Paramedics, five vacant Sheriff Deputies and six other vacant positions. The reduction of these positions will have an estimated savings of $2.6 million.
“Over the last three years the City has reduced expenditures wherever possible including reprioritizing capital improvement projects, implementing a hire freeze and cutting spending across the board, except for public safety,” said City Manager Mike Podegracz. “Up to this point we have focused on cutting the areas that have minimal impact to the residents, but unfortunately, the economy has yet to pick-up and we now need to look at making reductions to these essential services.”
The General Fund is intended to provide for normal services and operations in the City of Hesperia that are not specifically accounted for in other funds. The single largest expense for the General Fund is the contract for police services, which accounts for 50% of the Proposed Fiscal Year 2011-2012 Budget. The elimination of five vacant Deputy Sheriff positions should not significantly impact the citizens of Hesperia because those positions have become vacant over the last year at the same time as crime levels continuing to fall. While these positions would allow for increased service levels, this staffing change is not expected to negatively impact crime in the City.
The proposed reduction to the San Bernardino County Fire contract is an effort to be fiscally responsible while minimizing the impacts to citizens. In order to allow all stations to remain open and for full staffing of the four ambulances within the City, the proposed budget calls for the nine firefighter/paramedic from the fire engines to be eliminated. Over the last year, approximately 90% of calls were for medical aids or other non-fire suppression services.
Unlike the contract for police, fire protection services are not funded by the General Fund, rather they come from a special district that receives most if its revenue from property taxes. For the first time since the Hesperia Fire Protection District was established, in Fiscal Year 2010-2011 the City’s General Fund infused over $1.9 million into the Fire District in an effort to combat the drop of revenues due to the crash in property values. However, current revenue projections estimate that at today’s staffing levels, the Fire District will require an additional $1.2 million from the City’s General Fund. This subsidy would maintain the current level of service and staffing for 2011-2012 alone, not taking into consideration possible subsidy for years to come.
The budget will be presented for adoption at the June 21, 2011 City Council Meeting at the Hesperia City Hall.
To view the complete Proposed Fiscal Year 2011-2012 Budget please visit the City of Hesperia’s website at www.cityofhesperia.us.