Suppose the Town threw a budget party and no one showed up. That is almost what happened Saturday. Managing Editor Tami Roleff was among the very few who did show up, and files this report……
Despite the lure of donuts and snacks, only 10 residents showed up Saturday for a special workshop on the Town of Yucca Valley’s budget. The budget for fiscal year 2014-15 is expected to be just shy of $9.4 million, with a projected surplus of $153,000—which may or may not be a surplus at the end of the fiscal year. The budget includes a 1 percent cost of living allowance for Town employees for the next two years. The town manager’s compensation has been reduced to a base salary of $150,000 to $155,000, and the car allowance has been eliminated. Council Member Dawn Rowe stressed that the car allowance was a cost savings for the Town, since it eliminated a lot of time and paperwork for Town staff. The budget still does not include any significant contribution to maintaining the Town’s infrastructure.
Only three residents spoke during public comment; Richard Harlan to request the Town maintain its street signs; Bonnie Brady to request the Town repair the PFF Bank sign; and Cary Harwin who asked the Town to explore whether machines could fill potholes rather than employees. Staff agreed that the PFF Bank sign is an eyesore, but said the Town is powerless to do anything to the sign until the State makes a determination on the Redevelopment Agency’s Successor Agency’s long-range property management plan.
Council Member Merl Abel was in favor of reducing the amount in its reserves—which is currently at 56 percent of its annual budget, while most cities have 20 percent to 25 percent. “Having a whole bunch of money in the bank and not using it to help long-term expenses go down is not a good way of managing our money.” But the consensus was to keep the reserve level high. However, staff was directed to come to the Council earlier in the fiscal year with a report of any surplus money from the previous year’s budget, which would be directed toward other projects instead of being deposited in the reserve fund. The Yucca Valley Town Council will hold another budget workshop on Tuesday, May 20, prior to its regular town council meeting.