Santa Rosa mayor proposes 2-year budgets

Santa Rosa Mayor Ernesto Olivares is proposing to move the city to a two-year budget cycle to avoid the "insanity that is our annual budget hearings."

Olivares proposed the change at Tuesday's City Council meeting, one week before three days of public hearings on the budget are scheduled to begin.

After participating in several preliminary budget hearings this year, Olivares said it struck him that the city is "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

He said he witnessed the frustration of staff and fellow council members trying to set budget priorities in a challenging fiscal environment with little public input.

"So I said &‘there's got to be another way,'" Olivares said.

He's proposing that next year's budget cover July 2012 to July 2014.

Instead of a process he said feels rushed and devoid of meaningful public input, he believes the two-year timetable would give the city time to "involve the public more dynamically" in budget decisions.

Olivares said the process would help the city's "economic and political stability" and the council would retain full control over making midyear adjustments as information comes in about tax revenues and expenditures.

There was little discussion of the proposal by his fellow council members.

"I think I might have caught them off guard," Olivares said.

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