San Ramon Budget 2013-2014

I have been spending quite a bit of time thinking about the City of San Ramon and our upcoming Budget. As I have previously shared, I consider the process of creating a City\’s Budget to be one of the most important activities your elected officials can undertake. The Budget guides everything we do as a City and should reflect the priorities and goals of San Ramon.

One of the changes that the City implemented this year is that we began the process earlier than previous years. This will allow us to have more time to gather Pubic input and be extremely thoughtful about where we spend our money. We will be videotaping our workshops for viewing on the City Web Page and the information will be available online. We will also be placing hardcopies of all material in several locations throughout the City. Binders will be located at both Libraries, City Hall, 2401 Crow Canyon Blvd, both Community Centers, and the Senior Center.

We have already held two budget workshops and there are six more scheduled in the coming months. You may review the December 11 presentation or the January 8 presentation online. You may also watch the video of the Staff presentations.

As part of our annual City Planning process, the Council Members and I will hold a goal-setting workshop Forest Homes Farm on January 29 from 1 PM – 5 PM. The public is welcome.

As you can tell, there is a great deal of emphasis on ensuring that you have the opportunity to share input. We have allotted enough time in the process to gather your input and carefully consider everything we have in front of us and to come to a thoughtful conclusion. I feel good about the changes that we have implemented.

The first view of the 2013-2014 Budget prepared by City Staff was presented to the Council on December 11, 2012. This Budget forecasts a deficit of $3.6M – $4.7M. The City Manager and Staff also presented a list of 118 potential areas that could eliminate that gap. The City of San Ramon currently has a Budget reserve of approximately $31M. By past practice and policy, we will not allow the Budget reserve to fall below 50% of the expenses needed to run the City, or approximately $20M. We now must consider if we should cover some or all of the projected deficit with reserves or reduce expenses.

In our January 8, 2013 Budget Workshop the Council agreed to provide feedback on the 118 suggested cuts (vote yes or no) to provide an initial view to the Staff and Council what we are currently considering. We are to do this individually and without any discussion on the items. I do not agree with this approach and would have preferred to hear your input first and not take a position on a specific recommendation this early in the process. However, the majority of the Council did not agree with that approach and felt it was important to provide an early indication on which items would be potential targets for elimination/reduction.

With that said, I want you to have my commitment that I am still very
interested in your input. I will use that input to make my final recommendation. I consider the decision to provide early input to be just that – early input and is not final.

I appreciate and value all of your thoughts and suggestions. Please send me an email or give me a call to discuss.

5/15/2013 Update:

The City Council approved a $74.7M Budget. I consider the process we adopted in building the 2013-2014 Budget to be a success. We held numerous workshops, public forums and review sessions. We started the process earlier than before so that we would have sufficient time to carefully review the budget and make careful and thoughtful decisions.