The swimming pool at the Cameron Park Community Services District was crowded with happy youngsters on Monday night. But inside at the district board meeting, the atmosphere was more somber as board members struggled to come up with a budget for the next fiscal year.
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The initial part of the meeting was spent as a budget workshop and then resumed as a regular district board meeting. Normally the board meets on Wednesday but because Greg Stanton was unavailable, they moved the meeting to Monday at his request.
Staff reported that the district is projected to end the year with a surplus of $250,000, most of which will come from savings in the fire department’s budget. Suggested ways for using the surplus included $25,000 towards the Community Center budget; $25,000 for the fire equipment fund; $20,000 towards the Parks budget; $100,000 to help balance next year’s budget; and $30,000 towards a Park and Recreation Master Plan and Fire Review. However since the amount of the surplus is still a projection, no decisions were made on how to use carryover fund.
One resident suggested that instead of hiring someone to create a Park and Recreation Master Plan, that volunteers be used. Bill Randall said he and others had been part of local advisory planning committees and the district could follow the same route and save itself the cost of hiring a consultant.
The board then moved on to discuss next year’s budget which is projected at $4.9 million dollars. Board president Shiva Frentzen stated that they now need to take into account that they will receive $100,000 less in property taxes than originally projected.
General Manager Mary Cahill offered several ideas for saving almost $178,000 in the next fiscal year. Included in the suggestions were closing the lagoon which would save $45,000. However Cahill said doing so would remove a popular amenity and if the board later decided to reopen it, they might find it difficult to get approval to do so because of environmental concerns. Other suggestions included closing some open space parks, reducing security patrols, eliminating district provided paramedic services, reducing money spent responding to graffiti and vandalism and reducing the swim program.
However those suggested cost savings did not sit well with either the public or members of the board. In particular, eliminating paramedic services.
Resident Barbara Rogers complained that, “We are a small agency and no better than the City of Sacramento. I don’t care what you have to close, but don’t touch our fire services. In Sacramento they have to hold a fundraiser to keep their pool open so cry me a river. When are you going to get tough and make the General Manager cut her budget? When are you going to get serious?”
Vicky Neibauer, a local resident and a senior budget analyst for Sacramento County, said the board should be putting aside 1 percent of its budget for deferred maintenance. She also said that new legislation may require that the pool install a lift for the disabled and that cost needed to be factored into the budget.
Frentzen then asked Cahill to come back with a new plan that factors in $100,000 less in expected property tax revenue and builds in a reserve. She also suggested that another budget workshop was needed before the next regular board meeting in June.
Also discussed at the district board meeting was an update on the dog park being built in Hacienda Park and support for two mutual aid agreements with other agencies.
Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or [email protected] Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.