City reveals $218 million budget plan

May 18, 2017

City of Merced leaders and financial staff members unveiled a preliminary budget of $218.4 million for the Fiscal Year that begins July 1. The budget was presented to the City Council during a workshop Monday.
"We heard you Merced," declared City Manager Steve Carrigan who pointed out that the budget was based on public comments from three Town Hall meetings, a budget priority session, and internal staff needs.
Said Mayor Mike Murphy, “Residents see that our city is heading in the right direction and this budget helps move us there. Our budget includes more for police and fire, more for our parks, more for our youth and more for improving our city services.”
Among the highlights:
• More than two dozen positions were added to the budget, with the majority in the Public Works Department to improve service and address community needs.
• The budget includes $60,000 for a Quiet Zone Study to address the noise complaints caused by train horns. It also has $50,000 set aside to tackle problems with blighted housing.
• The budget contains an additional two police officers and a police lieutenant, a fire marshal, and more training for firefighters.
• There is a position for a Director of Parks and Recreation to guide the Parks and Recreation Department. Youth programming also gets a boost with $20,000 for the Boys and Girls Club funding for a Saturday program and $8,500 for a Summer Arts Program through the Multicultural Arts Center.
• The budget contains $20,000 in funds to get the Sports Complex, Joe Herb and other park ball fields in better condition.
• For public safety downtown, "more uniforms" will be visible by moving the offices of Code Enforcement, Fire Marshal, Fire Inspector to the Bell Station, the site of the Downtown Post Office. The increased city presence in the heart of downtown is expected to help with nuisance abatement on all levels.
• The city added $997,500 to the Revenue Stabilization Fund, the so-called “rainy day fund,” that can be used to help out during tough economic times. The addition boosts the fund up to $2.9 million.
• The Economic Opportunity Fund has $427,500 added to it. The fund to attract and retain businesses, will now have $2.2 million in it.
• There is funding to send staff out to collect trash that is dumped in alleys and streets on a regular basis. It also creates a satellite collection site for residents to bring their trash to Yosemite Avenue and Highway 59 in the hopes that it will alleviate dumping in the city.
• Public works is growing and it has the largest investment of personnel, mostly in the sewer and water divisions. The city will be hiring a public works lead in sewer, a mechanic in Fleet, a finance liaison, a custodian, two storm drain workers, two sewer collection system workers, a fabrication technician, a cross connection control specialist and two more refuse equipment trainees for the regular refuse routes. There also are two tree trimmers in the budget.
• The city’s computer system is a legacy from the Eighties. There is $350,000 for Phase I of the Enterprise Resource Planning System to update the AS 400 and its software and to determine the best replacement system.
• The budget added a Legislative Director to advocate on the city’s behalf, pursue grants, monitor bills and help develop policies and legislations for the city. The budget also contains $20,000 for a firm to assist in state and federal advocacy.
The proposed budget will formally be introduced to the council at its June 5 meeting. It is scheduled for adoption June 19.

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