Antioch Council approves two-year budget with $2.8 million in deficit spending

Emphasizes investment in City, quality of life; includes 104 police officers by second year

By John Crowder

A two-year budget, with deficit spending of $2.8 million in the second year, was approved by the Antioch City Council at their regular meeting on June 27, 2017.  The budget is for Fiscal Years 2017-2019.  Projected reserves at the end of each Fiscal Year are $26 million for 2017-2018 and $23.2 million for 2018-2019.  The budget was approved by a unanimous vote.

City Manager Ron Bernal and City Finance Director Dawn Merchant presented the budget to the City Council, highlighting changes discussed at the May 23 Budget Study Session that the City Council had directed Staff to incorporate in the final document.

Under the budget, revenues are expected to be approximately $54.4 million for the year ending on June 30, 2018, and to increase to about $54.8 million for the year ending on June 30, 2019.  Revenue generated from Measure C, the half-cent sales tax due to sunset in 2021, are projected at $6.8 million and $6.9 million, respectively.

Expenses for the two years are expected to be $54.3 million in FY 17-18 and 57.6 million in FY 18-19.

During his discussion of the budget, Bernal emphasized “strategic staffing increases” in police, code enforcement, community development and finance that he said were important investments that would improve the quality of life for Antioch residents.  He said that a major goal of the City was to reduce crime, and that the addition of a 103rd police officer in FY 17-18 and a 104th in FY 18-19 would help with that goal.  He also noted the advantages Antioch needed to capitalize on coming from the widening of Highway 4, the addition of BART service, and Antioch’s water rights.

Before giving the floor to Merchant, though, Bernal also pointed out the importance of either extending Measure C or finding another revenue source to make up the difference should it not be renewed.

Merchant concurred with Bernal, then addressed the projected rise in expenditures over the two years, attributing them to increases in City employee salaries and to pension liability.  She also noted that the budget was balanced in 17-18, but that about $2.8 million in deficit spending was projected for 18-19, leaving a $23 million reserve at the end of that fiscal year.

“At this point we’re not going bankrupt,” she said, but emphasized the importance of the revenue generated by Measure C to the City’s fiscal stability, saying the City Council needed to be “very conscious” of it.

Merchant addressed the expenditures added to the draft budget after the May 23 study session, including:

  • $250,000 in Police overtime costs for proactive details
  • $104,052 for a Community Service Officer
  • $150,900 to the Contra Costa Library to add another day of operation at W. 18th location
  • $270,000 in salary and benefits for one Assistant/Associate Planner and one Development Services / Engineering Technician to the Building Department
  • $20,000 to the Celebrate Antioch Foundation for 4th of July and Holiday DeLites events
  • $60,000 for a landscape surge
  • $100,000 for a public relations / marketing firm
  • $75,000 for an update to the City’s Cost Allocation Plan
  • $13,000 in FY 17/18 and $32,000 in FY 18/19 increases for the Arts & Cultural Foundation
  • $18,600 in part-time help for Business License processing.

The addition of the 104th police officer for the 2018-2019 budget is projected to cost $175,914.

Each of the council members spoke positively about the budget, referring to the increased expenditures as investments in the city, and a recognition of the importance the Council places on the quality of life of Antioch’s residents.

Council Member Tony Tiscareno called it a “smart budget,” and said he was optimistic with the investment the Council was making in the City.

Council Member Monica Wilson said she also thought they were making, “good investments” that she expected to see a lot of return on.

Council Member Lori Ogorchock said, “This goes to show that this council cares about the quality of life,” but also emphasized the importance of the revenue currently generated by Measure C.

Mayor Pro Tem Lamar Thorpe expressed his appreciation for the work done by Bernal and Merchant, and said that he believed the city council was making very important investments in the community and in the quality of life of its’ residents.  He also emphasized the importance of economic development.

Mayor Sean Wright, while echoing the sentiments of the other council members, emphasized the importance of growing revenue, something he said this budget would allow Antioch to do with its’ emphasis on economic development.

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