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City budget on track for the most part

With few exceptions, the City of Sunnyside is in good financial shape. At least that was the message delivered this past Monday night by new Sunnyside Finance Director Scott James.

James provided the city council with a mid-year budget update.

"As a rule, they (the budget funds) are performing to expectation," said James.

But, the city has two funds that are exceeding staff's expenditure expectations, said James. They are the crime prevention fund and the firemen's relief and pension funds. Also, there are financial issues in the water fund the city might have to deal with later, James said.

The city had budgeted $35,630 for the crime prevention fund, which is used to help publicize crime prevention information and fund other crime prevention projects. As of June 30, the city had already expended 70.4 percent of the budget, leaving only $10,544. James explained part of the problem with the fund is some of the salary for a police officer is being paid out of the crime prevention fund, but the expense for that position was not budgeted for out of this fund.

James said Council will have to address the firemen's relief and pension funds later this year. Council allocated $50,200 for the fund, but only has $17,940 left to pay those benefits for the rest of the year.

In regards to the water fund issue, the city has exceeded the $101,000 that was budgeted for professional services. The professional services fund has already expended $240,846, leaving a negative balance of $139,846. James said this fund has exceeded its allocation due to additional expenses incurred with the design of the wastewater treatment plant.

The city's general fund is performing to expectations, as only half of the $7.4 million set aside is gone at mid-year.

"Our general fund is in good shape," said James. "Revenues are coming in as expected."

The city is on track to collect the anticipated $8.6 million in revenue for this year. As of June 30, the city coffers have seen about $3.9 million (46 percent) in revenue brought in.

Other funds that are performing well include the city's ambulance service, which has spent only 43.6 percent of the $733,878 allocated. There is still $413,662 available in the ambulance fund. The city's garbage fund is also healthy. There is $382,079 left out of the $759,649 allocated for the fund.

Overtime, though, is becoming an issue in the city, said James. Council approved paying out $152,880 in overtime from the general fund. But city staff has already ate up $95,514 (62.5 percent) of that figure. The police department has accounted for a major part of the overtime that is being used in the city. Adding the cost of manpower for operating the jail and other costs within the department, the police department has spent more than $18,000 of its $23,000 allocated for overtime.

The fire department is doing one of the better jobs of managing overtime. Of the $29,360 set aside, the fire department has only spent $6,525 for overtime.

Councilwoman Bengie Aguilar expressed some concern about the revenues for the recreation department. James reassured Aguilar the revenue for the recreation department is coming in as expected. So far, the recreation department has collected $40,837 of its anticipated $145,000 in anticipated revenue. The recreation department has a $603,000 budget, which includes the operation of the community center, the city pool, the senior center and the museum. James said his report was as of the end of June and the recreation department usually collects most of its yearly revenue during the summer months.

Sunnyside City Manager Bob Stockwell interjected, saying the only real mystery with the recreation department budget is how much revenue the relatively newly acquired community center will bring into the city this year.

Mayor Ed Prilucik came to the defense of the recreation department, saying he doesn't know of any such programs that aren't subsidized by a city.

"We are doing a service for the community (with the recreation department)," said the mayor.

James wasn't able to act on a request by Mayor Pro-tem Mike Farmer to delve into the financial situation of the Sunnyside Police Department. The finances of the police department will be addressed at a future council meeting.

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