Santa Rosa officials said Tuesday they intend to seek new concessions from city workers to help restore more than $2 million in funding for police and fire services.
The latest draft of the city's budget, presented to the City Council on Tuesday, would avert the closure of Fire Station 10 in southwest Santa Rosa. The Fire Department would receive $1.3 million in funding that City Manager Kathy Millison had initially axed.
The revised budget also would return $750,000 to the Police Department, funding that would pay for two downtown enforcement officers and two school resource officers. It also would provide $110,000 to the gang task force budget.
To offset those and other added expenditures, Millison proposed $700,000 in cuts to other departments.
The city also signaled plans to seek $1 million in concessions from city workers outside public safety. Brian Cochran, city financial analyst, said the amount of concessions could possibly increase in contract negotiations with employee groups.
The City Council reviewed the budget revisions during a study session Tuesday but took no action.
General fund spending overall is proposed at $116.7 million, an increase of $7.8 million from the current year, with reserves remaining at $10.3 million.
Over two-thirds of the increase is driven by higher costs for employee salaries and benefits: $2.9 million in retirement costs, $1.2 million in health insurance costs and $1.4 million in scheduled salary increases.
Councilman Gary Wysocky expressed concern about the overall spending increase, saying it was "a little scary to me" and that he would prefer a larger reserve fund.
"I'm not satisfied with the budget as presented," Wysocky said.
Wysocky also expressed dismay that the revised budget retained a proposal to charge drivers up to $5 per day to park at Howarth Park, expected to raise about $520,000. "I consider it a bait and switch," he said.
After the session, Wysocky said he was referring to the city's assertion that parking would remain free at Howarth Park if city voters approved Measure P, the sales tax measure to fund city services for eight years. The measure was approved last year by voters.
Millison's original budget, released last month, called for the elimination of 22 general fund positions, including five officers and three evidence technicians from the Police Department, and the closure of Fire Station 10.
Mayor Ernesto Olivares, a former police lieutenant, and Councilman John Sawyer faulted the proposal, saying they were uncomfortable allowing police service levels to drop below the baseline established by Measure O, a public safety sales tax approved by voters in 2004.
Officials said Tuesday that the revised police budget remains $1.1 million under the Measure O baseline.
Olivares said the revised spending plan "looks like we've gone through some compromises."
Formal budget hearings are scheduled to start June 14.