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Giving back city employee concessions costs $664,400

The Ceres City Council made mid-year budget adjustments last week to restore employee salary concessions starting the first full pay period of January.

Normally a city council performs a mid-year budget to track how expenses and revenues are going. However, the council used the occasion to reflect on how giving back employee concessions have affected the budget.

Last September the council decided to give back to the employees what was taken from them years ago and in October voted to unfreeze employee step increases. The total cost of returning all concessions to employees for the rest of the fiscal year will be $664,400 of which $373,664 is coming out of the general fund.

The city also saw a budget change due to the retro adjustments to workers' compensation and liability insurance. City Manager Toby Wells said the city wasn't expecting the increases in both because of a run of claims from employee injuries.

"All in all, were we're at budget wise, we're pretty much where we expected," said Wells. "There's really no huge surprises one way or the other."

He added that the city expects to be under budget in expenditures by a couple of percentage point.

"We're not in a situation where we're supremely confident that everything is just rosy in front of us but things are getting better slowly. The gas prices will have a little bit of impact on our budget. We do have a significant portion of our sales tax from gasoline sales."
The bottom line is that the 2014-15 fiscal budget will have a $900,000 deficit, which will be made up by dipping into reserves. That means the city will be down to a 21 percent reserve. The city is required by law to have a 12 percent reserve.