Despite an indepth presentation and staff on-hand ready to answer any questions about how city dollars are being spent, only a small number of residents turned out for Tuesday night’s City of Wildomar Budget Workshop.
About a dozen people -- including three city staff members, one appointed official, and two reporters – showed up for the workshop at that was designed to give the public a platform in which to raise concerns, express ideas and ask questions about the city’s 2012-13 budget that begins July 1.
The city is currently facing a tight budget, said Wildomar Assistant City Manager Gary Nordquist, who led Tuesday’s more than hour-long presentation.
2012-13 Budget Workshop Highlights
- The city has been stripped of by the state.
- The city's general fund reserves are $1.3 million.
- Projected general fund revenues are $6.6 million; general fund expenditures are approximately $145,000 greater.
- Police service costs will increase by nearly
- Fire service costs are expected to increase by $100,000.
- Sales tax revenue is projected to increase by 10 percent or approximately $100,000.
During the workshop, residents in the audience identified key areas they want to see the city focus on in the upcoming year. The discussion items will be presented to City Council for consideration during the May 9 City Council meeting. The priorities identified Tuesday include (in no particular order):
Relocate City Hall.
Currently, the city pays $10,000 a month to lease space on Clinton Keith Road for City Hall. The lease expires in December 2013. Wildomar residents George Taylor and Gil Rasmussen suggested relocating city headquarters to refurbished modulars at Marna O’Brien Park. They felt the move would do two things: save money on a lease and cut down on vandals at the park. Rasmussen said the park is the heart of Wildomar and as such would be an appropriate location for City Hall. Cost to refurbish the modulars is estimated between $300,000 and $400,000, Norquist said.
Currently, the shelter is shared among cities that include Wildomar, Lake Elsinore, Temecula, Murrieta, Canyon Lake and Menifee. It opened in 2010 as a result of a $15 million bond measure that all the cities are responsible for repaying. Per the current contract agreement, the cost sharing of annual operating expenses and paying off the bond for the shelter is based on animal counts: The more unwanted pets a city has coming into the shelter, the bigger the payout for that city.
Wildomar resident Sheryl Ade, along with Rasmussen, expressed concern that the “counts” methodology is flawed and Nordquist agreed.
Evaluate city council member benefits.
Taylor suggested cutting council member pension and he recommended also looking at ways to reduce the cost of healthcare benefits for the elected officials. Nordquist said it costs the city $75,000 annually for all council members.
Bring in more revenue.
Wildomar Planning Commissioner Harv Dykstra and Taylor said increasing city revenues by attracting business to the area should be a top priority. One idea was to hire on a lobbyist or consultant to bring business to the city. Dykstra was also concerned about retaining the businesses that are already located in Wildomar.
City Manager Frank Oviedo was at Tuesday’s workshop. He said that when it comes to attracting business to the area, tight lending is hurting development. He also said retailers are sometimes shy about Wildomar because the city’s demographics don’t meet their specific requirements.
Two residents at Tuesday’s meeting specifically wanted to see the city cut expenses so it can afford to keep its parks open. Currently, Marna O’Brien Park is the only one of three city parks open. The 9-acre site is being supported by the nonprofit group, Friends For Wildomar Parks.
Create a contingency fund.
Ade suggested the city set aside money out of its general fund to be used only in cases of emergency. A dollar amount was not suggested Tuesday night.
Crack down on code violators.
One resident wanted to see code enforcement do a better job of cracking down on people who create public safety issues and generate eyesores in the city.
More activities for kids.
One resident wrote in to Nordquist requesting a BMX park be built in the city.
If you have suggestions for the city, email them to Gary Nordquist at email@example.com, and plan to attend the May 9 City Council meeting starting at 6:30 p.m. Click here for more information about the meeting (the meeting agenda will post no later than the afternoon of May 4).