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Petaluma spending on pace; revenues slightly up

Petaluma City Council members will get an early checkup Monday into how the city's budget forecasts are faring.

City Finance Director Bill Mushallo's first-quarter budget update shows general fund revenues are trending slightly over expectations, with sales taxes higher than anticipated in the first three months of the 2013-2014 fiscal year spending plan.

The city hasn't received the analysis from the state showing what sectors of the local economy provided the increases, he said.

Property tax revenues also haven't been received, but assessed values of Petaluma properties went up more than expected, so an increase in tax proceeds should follow. The city is scheduled to receive more specific figures in December from Sonoma County on Petaluma tax revenues.

Real estate transfer taxes are also up, as are fees for planning permits, which fees for city services are coming in at expected levels, Mushallo said.

Overall, general fund expenditures are at 24.7 percent of budget as of the end of the first quarter.

"This trend can be misleading, however, since operating expenditures tend to be higher later in the fiscal year," he said.

The finance department conducts an in-depth analysis of all funds at the mid-year checkpoint presentation in February.

Mushallo has also instituted a rolling 5-year general fund forecast to better plan long-term. When Mushallo was hired in July 2011, the city was struggling to stay ahead of revenue drops related to the economic downturn and cost increases for employees' benefits, and a rainy day fund that was nearly empty.

It has since reined in its spending and has begun rebuilding its emergency reserve fund.

You can reach Staff Writer Lori A. Carter at 762-7297 or lori.carter@pressdemocrat.com.


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