Posted by: twotrees | March 19, 2008

All cities face it, some are acting on it

From a City of Ventura Press Release dated March 19, 2008

City of Ventura Executes Immediate Steps to Preserve Fiscal Sustainability

Leaders in the City of Ventura today announced a number of immediate steps they will take to preserve fiscal sustainability in response to the local impact of events and trends in the national and world economies. These immediate recommendations are the acceleration of a budget refinement process that previously sought to reduce City spending midyear by 2 percent – or $1.9 million – along with $1.1 million in savings from postponing or canceling lower priority projects, for a total $3 million spending reduction in the current fiscal year. The budget refinement process included additional cost-saving measures scheduled for implementation in the 2008-2009 fiscal year, starting July 1, 2008. “With housing prices going down and gas prices going up, cities are facing the same challenges as our residents in making ends meet,” said City Manager Rick Cole. “We are acting now to ensure we can sustain vital services for the long run.”

Locally, the economic downturn has affected City revenue through a loss of expected sales tax dollars – currently 10% below projections; decreased property tax from falling home prices – down 24 percent over the prior year; and a decrease in revenue from building permits – down more than 15 percent from expected totals. Liquidity has also been affected; the City of Ventura holds $10 million in what were AAA-rated Bear Stearns investment notes.

City Manager Cole, after consulting Mayor Christy Weir and the city’s executive leadership team, will execute an immediate hiring freeze, with exceptions requiring City Council approval, and will promptly meet with all City bargaining units to seek full support, involvement and ideas for addressing this fiscal challenge.

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