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Folsom families face budget ax

By: Don Chaddock, The Telegrpah
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Folsom hopes to close an $8.6 million budget deficit by eliminating 10 percent of its workforce, restructuring fire department operations, tapping into $4.7 million of unallocated reserve funds, limiting services at the Folsom Zoo Sanctuary, closing two city-run libraries one extra day each and trimming back on recreational offerings. City Manager Kerry Miller said city staff went back to the drawing board, tossing out their current budget that ends on June 30, and created an 18-month budget proposal they recently presented to the city council. “We’ve used a modified zero-base budget, asking all departments to (justify) programs and expenses,” he said. “When we went through the budget reviews with each department, there were some departments who couldn’t justify the programs they offered or even why they’d been implemented in the first place.” November estimates put the deficit $200,000 less, but Miller said the situation is worse than they originally believed. “(It’s) due to sales tax revenue declines,” he said. “They’re 26 percent lower than last year.” The new budget seeks to eliminate 55 positions from the city’s workforce of 553. The current budget year’s budget, ending June 30, will be $73.1 million. The extended budget, running through June 30 of 2010, will be balanced at $69.2 million, according to city Finance Director Jim Francis. “We haven’t determined the date the city would hand out pink slips,” Miller said. Of the 55 proposed eliminations, 11 are currently “unfunded,” four are vacant and 39 are staffed, according to Miller. Previous estimates put the number of job cuts at between 50 and 80. The city council could vote to accept the new budget as early as their next meeting on Jan. 27. “This was a difficult issue to deal with overall,” Miller said of the cuts. Under the proposed budget, the Folsom Police Department would lose eight full-time positions and one part-time slot, Miller said. “That would be two police officers, two investigators, one sergeant, two dispatchers and one part-time crime prevention specialist,” Miller said. Police Chief Sam Spiegel does not expect the reductions to have much of an impact because all but one of those positions is currently vacant. “We’re going to try to absorb those (cuts) through attrition over the next six months,” Spiegel said. “It will affect one officer who is currently enrolled in the police academy.” The officer isn’t officially on the city staff at this point, according to Spiegel. Miller said that by using “creative staffing,” the police department will be able to operate the dispatch office 24 hours per day. “I don’t believe we will have appreciable impacts on response times,” Spiegel said. The Folsom Fire Department will take one of their existing engine companies and rotate them through the four fire stations, rather than housing them at one station, to help cut down on overtime pay, according to Fire Chief Dan Haverty. His department will see no “We usually have $1.3 million in overtime,” Haverty said. “We’re trying to reduce that to about $400,000.” Miller commended Haverty on the innovative solution. “SacMetro is looking at brownouts (at their stations),” Miller said. “This approach allows us to have 24-hour coverage at all of our stations. This puts us at the same level of service we had two years ago. They city hasn’t changed all that much (since then).” Haverty said that high call volumes at one time could impact response time but overall, it would be minimal. “It would be seconds,” he said. “Statistically, it’s not going to make a big difference.” The two libraries in Folsom would see the elimination of all part time positions (excluding shelvers), putting staffing levels at 79 percent of what it was two years ago, losing the equivalent of four full-time positions. Reflecting the halt in residential construction and the slowdown in commercial building, the Community Development Department will be the hardest hit. Two years ago, the department employed about 47. In spring last year, the department was slashed to 34.5. The proposed staffing level now would be 28.5. “This is consistent with the decline in building,” Miller said. The Parks and Recreation Department will also see deep cuts in services and staffing. All educational programs at the Folsom Zoo Sanctuary will be eliminated if the proposed budget is approved, according to Assistant City Manager Evert Palmer. City Councilman Ernie Sheldon expressed dismay at the severity of the cuts the department will suffer. “Parks and Rec has gone through two big hits,” Sheldon said. “Last year, 15 people disappeared. Now wer’e looking at probably another 15 people. It’s unfortunate. We’re talking about 30 people in a year.” Department director Robert Goss pointed out that many of those people were employed as part-time workers. “Our part time people play an important role in all our departments. Parks and Rec stood up and took more than their share (of hits),” Sheldon said. Councilwoman Kerri Howell promoted the idea of using volunteers to help run Parks and Rec programs that otherwise face the budget ax. There will be a public hearing on the proposed budget cuts at the Tuesday, Jan. 27 City Council meeting at 6:30 p.m. They meet at City Hall, 50 Natoma Street in Folsom. The proposed cuts have also been made available at the city’s website, www.folsom.ca.us. Lori Wille, president of Patrons of the Arts, believes cutting Parks and Rec, libraries and the zoo are the wrong places to target. “We’re very sad,” Wille said. “It’s really upsetting. There is so much talk about quality of life and the arts. It’s going to be tough.” She said the announcement of the cuts “came as a shock.” “To have (arts) cut off at the knees leaves us wondering what to do and where to go,” Wille said. Other cuts or service reductions include: -- Eliminating Arts and Cultural Commission with responsibilities to be absorbed by Parks and Recreation Commission. -- Eliminating Historic District Commission, with function absorbed by Planning Commission. -- Closing Georgia Murray Library Building on Mondays and one additional evening closure per week. -- Closing Norman R. Siefkin Library on Fridays, in addition to current weekend closures. -- Eliminating Folsom Zoo Sanctuary educational and summer camp programs as well as birthday parties. -- Limiting hours of operation for the Aquatics Center. -- Eliminating all adult special interest, leisure and recreation classes offered by the Parks and Recreation Department. -- Eliminating the arts grant program. -- Reducing city youth and adult sports leagues including soccer, adult softball, high school flag football, youth indoor soccer and other programs. -- Reducing community use of the Community Center, Rotary Club House and RG Smith Club House. -- Eliminating City Arborist position. -- Reducing city Concerts in the Park from 10 to eight. -- Eliminate use of state lobbying firm. -- Bringing city newsletter production in-house, eliminating use of contract editor. -- Eliminating printing and mailing of city newsletter, choosing to distribute it electronically via e-mail. -- Considering offering early retirements and furloughs to employees. -- Canceling contract with Sacramento County for animal control services and bringing function in-house. -- Postponing payments of of city contribution to Folsom Lake College visual and performing arts center. -- Eliminating subsidy for Folsom Tourism Bureau (used to help pay rent at facility). -- Eliminating Redevelopment Agency Citizens Advisory Committee, responsibilities absorbed by city council under redevelopment agency. -- Disbanding city’s SENET (Special Enforcement Neighborhood Enhancement Team) police program that focuses on proactive anti-gang and drug activity. Two current SENET officers reassigned, could pick up some functions of disbanded task force. * * * How much do they make? FOLSOM City Manager Kerry Miller, $212,023 Assistant City Manager Evert Palmer, $166,154 Finance Director Jim Francis, $159,600 Utilities Director Key Payne, $152,523 Public Works Director Richard Lorenz, $148,054 Parks and Recreation Director Robert Goss, $139,529 Library Director Katy Curl, $119,220 City Clerk Christa Schmidt, $101,567 City Attorney Bruce Cline, $197,134 Police Chief Sam Spiegel, $175,180 Fire Chief Dan Haverty, $170,278 * * * Neighboring cities AUBURN City Manager Bob Richardson, $138,278 Community Development Director Wil Wong, $129,059 Administrative Services Director Andy Heath, $128,917 Interim Public Works Director Jack Warren, $78,864-$133,550* Police Chief Valerie Harris, $137,715 Fire Chief Mark D’Ambrogi, $126,192 Note: Warren retired and was rehired on a contract as the “interim” director. * * * RANCHO CORDOVA City Manager Ted Gaebler, $194,484-$237,420 Assistant City Manager Joe Chinn, $144,180-$176,016 Public Works Director Cyrus Abhar, $130,500-$159,312 Finance Director Donna Silva, $122,304-$149,304 Economic Development Director Curt Haven, $109,044-$133,128 City Clerk Mindy Cuppy, $78,072-$95,304 Note: Fire and law enforcement services are contracted with Sacramento County. * * * LINCOLN City Manager Jim Estepp, $204,880 Director of Public Works John Pedri, $105,245-$141,038 Director Administrative Service Steve Ambrose, $101,271-$135,713 Police Chief Brian Vizzusi, $119,530-$160,182 Fire Chief Dan Whitt, $111,113-$148,902 Director of Library Services Darla Wegener, $91,562-$122,701 * * * PLACERVILLE City Manager/City Attorney John Driscoll, $113,268-$137,676 Director of Public Works Randy Pesses, $90,540-$110,052 Director of Finance Dave Warren, $75,564-$91,848 City Engineer Rick Tippett, $79,176-$96,240 Chief of Police George Nielsen, $89,784-$109,140 * * * ROSEVILLE City Manager Craig Robinson, $273,817 Assistant City Manager Mike Shellito, $138,218-$185,226 Planning Director Paul Richardson, $127,605-$171,003 City Attorney Brita Bayless, $235,800 Police Chief Michael Blair, $139,427-$169,475 Fire Chief Ken Wagner, $133,851- $179,973