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Hughson City Council adopts preliminary budget
City keeps General Fund reserves of 83 percent
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A healthy budget has become a hallmark of the City of Hughson in recent years, evident by the fact that the City's General Fund reserves were at 83 percent as of February. This month, the Hughson City Council adopted its 2015-16 preliminary budget which boasts a positive balance of revenues to expenditures and a slight growth in the General Fund.

Although the Hughson City Council unanimously approved its preliminary budget on June 8, the final budget won't come before the council until September and upon its approval it will take effect retroactively to July 1. This is the same method that Stanislaus County utilizes and Mayor Matt Beekman said it's been a process that has worked well for Hughson.

"We adopt a preliminary budget because it gives us the opportunity to close the books for the fiscal year and then afterwards we have the actuals to make adjustments that we may need to when finalizing the budget that is adopted in September," explained Beekman. "That way when we adopt the final budget it's not a projection."

Thus far the outlook is positive for Hughson, something that can be attributed to the city's "conservative revenue assumptions and restraint in expenditure projections," according to a release issued by the city. This has resulted in nearly $12 million in revenue compared with roughly $9 million in expenditures.

"One thing we are also seeing is a significant growth in sales tax revenue, so that's really encouraging," said Beekman.

While the opening of a Dollar Tree and several downtown businesses has contributed to more spending, Beekman said a surge in agribusinesses has also been a large factor.

"Plus the economy is better," added Beekman.

While there is no projected change in the preliminary budget from fiscal year 2014-2015 as there will be a total of 15 full-time positions, a Wastewater Chief Plant Operator position will be eliminated. In its place a Utilities Superintendent position was created and a Senior Maintenance Worker position will be filled with a Water Distribution Operator.

Salaries and benefits are one of Hughson's larger budgeted items, consisting of 19 percent of the budget. Like other cities in California, Hughson is also adjusting to a change in structure of the California Public Employees' Retirement System which lowers the city's employer contribution and has the city paying $104,000 in unfunded liability.

While the city will adopt the final budget later this year, the City Council is constantly reviewing the numbers said Beekman.

"After that we will probably take a look at the budget in January or February," said Beekman. "The numbers change, the budget is active, so we end up reviewing it almost quarterly."