Clovis News

Clovis faces another budget shortfall

Clovis faces another budget shortfall this year, but not as severe as the city's budget shortfalls the past three years.

City Council members will hold budget hearings Monday night for the city's major departments. Overall, the city has a $158 million budget.

The city's general fund budget, which pays for police, fire services, recreation, some parks and senior services, is about $51.7 million. The bulk of the general fund comes from property taxes, sales taxes and vehicle fees. Four years ago, the general fund exceeded $57 million.

The general fund has a revenue shortfall of about $2.5 million, said Robert Woolley, the city's finance director. Employees are being asked to agree to cuts in pay for a third year. And there is no promise that services can be substantially improved. Other proposed reductions include holding down overtime, supplies and energy costs and not replacing fleet vehicles.

But the city could hire new firefighters if it wins a federal grant. The additional funding would allow the Fire Department to keep its downtown station open full time; it has been closed most days since last July.

The employee concessions total about 2.8% and are half of last year's concessions. The council will discuss the contracts of city administrative employees and unaffiliated employees Monday night. The budget proposals also include cutting City Council members' pay by the same 2.8%. The proposed cuts total about $300,000 in the general fund.

Firefighters, police and public works employees' contracts are not yet settled. The city's 52 sworn firefighters are in negotiations with the city about the concessions proposal, said Rich Cadigan, the Clovis Firefighters' Association president.

"We received a proposal from the city, and we are continuing to meet with them to give them our counterproposal," he said.

He said the 2.8% cut is "as good as can be expected."

Cadigan said he is worried that the city may not get the $577,000 federal grant to pay for new firefighters over three years. The city qualified for the grant and the council approved its terms, but the federal government has not yet released the money to the city.

Unless the city wants to use reserves, "the only way to keep the station open is to get the grant," Cadigan said. Final approval on the budget is expected June 21.