The 188-page document highlights the challenges the city faced last year, and will continue to face this year. It also notes ideas for tackling those challenges, as well as some successes that might surprise some residents, particularly on the question of that “damn library” and whether investing in arts and recreation is good for the city.
I tried to pick through all its pages, but since I’m not a budget and finance person I may have missed some interesting little details. Feel free to pore through this document yourself and add or dispute what I found to be highlights. Basically:
THE BOTTOM LINE:
The reports says:
Almost all City revenues have declined substantially since the adoption of the 2008-10 operating Budget in June 2008. Sales tax revenue in fiscal year 2008-2009 was $18.5 million, a decrease of 8 percent over the amount received in the prior year primarily due to the slowdown in auto and retail markets. Together with declines in property tax revenue and fees and charges collected by the city for services, total revenues were approximately $4 million below initial projections for 2008-09 and are expected to finish $9 million below initial projections for 2009-10.
Total Expenses: “$83 million, of which Governmental Activities incurred $81 million and Business-type Activities incurred $2 million (see tables 2 and 5 for additional information).”
SOME SURPRISING, OR NOT SO SURPRISING, HIGHLIGHTS
That “Damn Library.” Sorry, library supporters, I’m not taking any position on the library when I refer to it this way. I’m just honoring readers, for whom referring to it this way, has become something of a Crazy inside joke.
Anyway, the news about this budgeted $42 million project. Despite concerns, controversies, etc., the city expects to complete its new library on time and within budget. The city has so far spent around $23 million, and has $17 million left to spend.
Surprise No. 2: Arts and recreation are good, very good, for Walnut Creek: In a year when revenues declined in most areas (sales, property tax, state revenues, including vehicle license fees, and city license and permit fees), one sector proved to be a money-maker: Arts and recreation.
Sure, the city’s spending on arts and recreation increased $324,000, or 2 percent, from the previous year. This was due to increased salaries and benefit and other costs. And the city had to pour money into arts and recreation because more people were taking Civic Arts and recreation classes and going to see shows at the Lesher Center.
Notably, ticket sales at the Lesher Center, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, continued strong, bucking the trend of other performing arts organizations hurting in tough economic Times. Charges for tickets and fees for classes and other programs increased $249,000 from the prior year.
Not such a surprise: The other money maker. Increased parking rates at meters also helped bring in an additional $233,000 (5%) from the previous year.
In 2010 and beyond, the goals include:
- Continuing to enhance the vitality of downtown
- Oversee a comprehensive cost allocation, fees and charges study
- Adopt the Locust Street / Mount Diablo Boulevard Area Specific Plan
- Complete review of the BART Transit Center Village and Neiman Marcus projects
- Implement parking pay stations in the downtown
- Finishing that new library and parking garage.
- Do reconstruction on Geary Road.
- Work on a retaining wall for Rudgear Road Retaining Wall
- Conduct a needs assessment for Heather Farm Swim Center