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Wasco council sees $15.1M budget for 2024-25

The Wasco City Council reviewed the preliminary 2024-25 budget and found it balanced, with general fund revenues of $15.4 million and general fund operating costs of $15.1 million.

Public safety was the largest cost area, accounting for 43% of general fund operating costs, comprising fire, police and animal control. Animal services accounted for $0.45 million, fire services for $0.74 million and police for $5.38 million, for a total of $6.56 million.

Public Works added $3.44 million, community development $1.91 million and support services $.23 million.

The proposed budget presented last Thursday emphasized strategic priorities. "My entire staff and I meticulously reviewed all department budgets to ensure their budget requests aligned with City Council goals that were presented at the strategic planning workshop on Feb. 24 this year," Finance Director Isarel Perez-Hernandez said.

The goals were:

City infrastructure. Enhancing streets, utilities and pedestrian improvements.

Public safety. Investing in the police department and code compliance:

Community services center/city facilities. Maintaining and improving essential community facilities.

Economic development. Stimulating revenue growth and expansion.

Community communication. Enhancing outreach through social media and opt-in notifications.

Perez-Hernandez also noted that the proposed budget responded to new economic challenges arising from inflation and possible recession.

The budget review of the individual components within the Enterprise Funds was as follows: Wastewater Fund with revenues of $2.8 million and operating expenses of $2.8 million; Water Fund revenues of $23.9 million and operating expenses of $3.6 million; Sanitation Fund revenues of 4.8 million and operating expenses of 4.3 million; CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) Fund revenues of $0.42 million and operating expenses of $16 million; and Public Transit revenues of $3.2 million and operating expenses of $0.9 million.

City Manager Scott Hurlbert said, "Tonight, the city council saw a first draft of the fiscal year 2024-25 operating and capital improvement budgets. The proposed budget was well received with good questions and answers and direction to staff for preparing a final proposed budget to be considered in June."

Mayor Alex Garcia was pleased with the presentation: "I'm always happy to participate in this annual exercise. It's open, transparent and quite frankly award-winning. Our city budget consistently receives recognition for its excellence. I'm always happy to bring the residents' concerns to the dais, but it's especially rewarding to see investments made in the actual budget to further the goals of our community."

Perez-Hernandez commented on the balanced budget: "It is a testament to our financial stewardship and our commitment to being transparent with the community, stakeholders and our elected officials on how tax dollars are being invested in the safety and well-being of its residents, making it a win-win for everyone."


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