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  Municipal Budgets 101
December 22, 2005

Budget Research Final (2).xls

Here is my Christmas present to the people of Richmond, a comparison of the general fund budgets for FY 2005-2006 of 15 northern California cities, including Richmond (attached EXCEL file). The City of Richmond has a nominal general fund budget of $106,353,000, larger on a per capita basis than all but two comparable cities. Richmond has the largest per capita property tax, utility user tax and real estate transfer tax revenue of all 15 cities. It has the second highest per capita sales and use tax revenue. See TOM BUTT E-FORUM Rich-mond or Poor-mond? November 19, 2005. This is the work product largely of Kevin Morsony, for which I paid $1,000 and got far more than that in value. Thank you, Kevin.

In addition, the City brings in and spends $10,544, 710 of revenues for “Development Services,” which are cost recovery funds for services provided by the Police, Planning, Engineering, Building Regulations and Fire Department. Under “Special Revenue,” the City brings in and spends $6,615,305 in grants, library fines and revenues for the Hilltop Maintenance and Landscaping District for services restricted to the purposed of the funding sources.

There are $20, 895, 294 of “Enterprise Funds” that the City accounts for separately, including storm water maintenance, wastewater/sewer, Convention Center, Paratransit, KCRT and Port. Each of these has defined or restricted revenue streams derived from fees or rentals.

Finally, the City has two completely independent agencies with their own revenue sources and budgets: the Richmond Housing Authority at $41,913,667 and the Richmond Community Redevelopment Agency at $59,566,000.

General Fund


Development Services


Special Revenue


Enterprise Funds




What does all this mean? As I noted in my previous E-FORUM on this subject, cities have amazingly disparate ways of reporting their budget breakdowns, including what is or is not included in their general fund budgets. However, I stand on my previous assertion that Richmond is not remarkably strapped for cash needed to carry on the normal operations expected form City government. We can work smarter and get a lot more for our money.

What you do not see in any of these budget figures is Richmond’s capital improvement budget and deferred maintenance shortfall. That is the money that pays for things like repairing or rebuilding streets and rehabilitating the Richmond Plunge. The last time the City even adopted a capital improvement budge was July 2003 for FY 2004-2005.  Based on the latest pavement management evaluation (see TOM BUTT E-FORUM  Richmond Streets - Bad and Getting Worse December 4, 2004), it would take an expenditure of $9 million annually for ten years to maintain streets in their current miserable condition. It would take $21 million annually for 10 years to bring streets to minimum accepted standards. How much are we spending now? About $2.7 million annually, mostly from gas tax and Measure C revenue. Don’t count on any increase in street quality unless someone figures out how to increase our annual investment several times over.

The budget process for FY 2006-2007 will begin this month internally, and the first public workshop is scheduled for January 24, 2006, at 10:00 AM.