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Media Coverage
Richmond Trims, Oks Budget
June 27, 1996


Thursday, June 27, 1996
Section: news
Page: A04

RICHMOND Top city administrators managed to squeeze out nearly $1.3 million in reductions to the city's budget, making the final balance sheet of $66.8 million for 1996-97 palatable enough for council members to approve it.

The council voted 6-2 to accept the budget Tuesday, even though it falls about $200,000 short of meeting its stated goal of keeping $1.5 million in reserve.

The fiscal year starts Monday.

The final budget is a great improvement over what had been presented just two weeks ago, said Councilman Alex Evans on Wednesday.

"I was moderately happy," he said, explaining why he supported it. "We were really close to what I wanted, and there seemed to be votes to pass it."

Though the budget does not mandate any layoffs, as employees had feared, City Manager Floyd Johnson suggested eliminating nine positions that are currently vacant. Those were approved by the council.

The positions include two librarians, two engineers, a maintenance worker, a computer support position, an accountant and an accounting assistant. A vacant clerical position at the marina will be reduced to part-time.

Voting for the budget were Mayor Rosemary Corbin and council members Irma Anderson, Tom Butt, John Marquez, Alex Evans and Lesa McIntosh.

Opposing it were Nat Bates and Donna Powers. Vice Mayor Richard Griffin was absent due to a death in his family.

There was considerably less agreement on money matters two weeks ago, when the council held its final review session.

The budget originally presented by city staff had a paltry $735 in cash left over at the end of the fiscal year. That number was raised to about $82,000 after adjustments from staff. But it still wasn't nearly good enough, some said.

Several council members demanded that staff make enough cuts to leave a $1.5 million reserve. They specifically asked that the city manager reduce his budget by $200,000.

He said Tuesday that he would not be able to cut his budget without cutting staff.

But staff members did make cuts in other areas. In addition to eliminating the vacant positions, they cut travel budgets in half for all departments except police and fire.

They also found $200,000 in savings to the general fund from a repayment by the port, which was able to sell two large cranes. Another $200,000 was repaid by the Redevelopment Agency, and $200,000 that was to go to the Housing Authority was deemed unneeded. Those three amounts are actually not reductions, but transfers within the budget.

The final general fund budget comes to $66.8 million.

The total budget, including general fund, special revenue funds like federal money, debt service, the sewer district, the capital improvement budget and employment and training, comes to about $165 million.