Christopher Rosacker

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May 22, 2013
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Special funding meetings negate today's regular Nevada City Council meeting

After a special May 16 meeting about preferred municipal uses of revenue from a voter-approved sales tax increase and a planned workshop Thursday to look at the Nevada City’s budget, the town’s city council cancelled its regularly scheduled meeting tonight.

Today’s meeting would have been the second of the council’s bimonthly meetings. The council’s first meeting of the month took place May 8.

At the special meeting on the funding allocations of the new sales tax revenue, the city made some changes to a proposed list of possible allocations.

More than two-thirds of voters approved Measure L during the November election. The measure created a 3/8 percent increase to city’s sales tax, bringing its overall rate up to 8.5 percent, which is expected to bring in $395,000 additional revenues during the tax’s first year.

Most notable of the changes is a $30,000 contribution toward a proposed $94,000 study to kick-start the long-sought-after Nevada County Courthouse facility upgrade in lieu of state funding for the project.

The city will seek other local government and private agencies’ support for the rest of the feasibility and cost engineering study. Proponents argue the study will make the proposed project to renovate the nearly 150-year-old courthouse more attractive than other statewide projects vying for judicial funds that have diminished in recent years.

Since the courthouse allocation was not among the original tax revenue proposals, the city had to find the funding among Measure L funds.

At the May 16 meeting, the council chose not to fund a $20,000 public works seasonal employee. A further $6,100 was not needed for a new computer server for the Nevada City Police Department, which used law enforcement-specific monies — such as drug asset seizure funds and Proposition 172 funds — to purchase that equipment.

The city will eliminate furloughs with general fund revenues, instead of Measure L funds, which was also originally proposed, City Manager David Brennan said. General fund monies to eliminate furloughs were released through cost-cutting, Brennan added.

“We still have expenditures exceeding revenues by $27,000,” Brennan noted.

Because the sales tax has a five-year sunset clause, as a guiding principle, city staff suggested using Measure L revenues for one-time expenditures, such as capital improvements, deferred maintenance and equipment purchases, leaving reoccurring costs to the city’s general fund.

An exception is transitional funding to support the implementation of city operations that will become part of the regular general fund, such as increasing the part-time positions of city manager and police chief to full-time positions.

“No money is going to raises or back pay. The only money going into pay is going to transition full-time positions of chief and city manager,” said Brennan, who said he will NOT remain on once his position is made full time.

“The city can’t keep going with a revolving door for its top managers,” he said.

One of the other highest priorities for the city’s Measure L funds is to develop an emergency fund. At the end of the tax’s lifespan, the city is aiming to have built a $572,300 reserve fund representing about 15 percent of the city’s general fund expenditures — close to the 17 percent (or two months of operation) recommended for government agencies.

For the first year of Measure L revenues, the city had also planned to contribute $40,000 to the currently non-existent reserve fund. However, to help fund the courthouse feasibility study, it will only put $31,000 toward the emergency fund.

“Some other things might get postponed,” Brennan told The Union Tuesday about funding the courthouse study. “But generally speaking, we have enough unallocated or unappropriated funds to move them around.”

Thursday’s budget workshop is slated to begin at 9 a.m. at Nevada City Hall, located at 317 Broad St.

To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email or call 530-477-4236.

Correction: The version of this story that appeared in the May 21 print edition of The Union contained errors not present in this online version of the story. City Manager David Brennan has no intention of remaining on once his position is funded to a full-time level and Thursday’s budget workshop will occur at 9 a.m.

The Union regrets these errors.

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The Union Updated May 22, 2013 12:58PM Published May 22, 2013 10:51PM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.