‘As frugal as we can’: Nevada City to plan its financial future at May 20 budget meeting
Nevada City numbers
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Local governments around the country are preparing for predicted mammoth-sized losses to revenue streams.
Grass Valley is expecting losses of around $290,500 to its general fund revenue this fiscal year, and another $650,000 in the 2020-21 fiscal year, as the state of California expects to run a $54.3 billion deficit after having accumulated a $21 billion surplus last year.
A loss in revenue might also be true for Nevada City, but some city administrators said they were not prepared to discuss the matter until after a May 20 meeting, when officials will thoroughly review the budget.
Nevada City Manager Catrina Olson did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Loree’ McCay, the city’s administrative services manager, said it would be irresponsible to speculate about the future of the city’s finances and staffing before next week’s meeting.
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“I really don’t think it’s healthy, and I don’t think it’s a good idea to put out ideas that aren’t gelled,” she said.
Despite not revealing a formalized plan, Nevada City Engineer Bryan McAlister said projects that have outside funding from the state or federal government will continue, including renovations being done to Commercial Street, the sidewalk on Searls Avenue as well as the Nevada Street bridge. Additionally, McAlister said wastewater and water treatment projects will continue because they are essential.
Larger projects that can hold off, said the city engineer, will likely have to be delayed.
“I just think we’d probably defer any major street rehabilitation projects for now until we get into next fiscal year, which starts July 1,” said McAlister.
Despite not knowing the full game plan yet, Nevada City Council members are preparing for frugality and conservative spending measures as they know the future budget will not look like those of the past few years.
“This is pretty unprecedented,” said Nevada City Councilman Duane Strawser. “We may have to drop certain projects if money is not in the bank.”
Having been more proactive on certain projects, Strawser said the city, which maintains about a $4 million budget, will likely have to slow down as to not bite more than it can chew. That’s the biggest lesson the City Council member learned in the wake of the Great Recession: work with what you have.
“We will only spend the cash that we have,” he said. “We’re just going to be as frugal as we can.”
Councilman-elect Doug Fleming, who is set to take office in July, said he doesn’t expect an easy time moving forward, as much city revenue comes from parking — “and there hasn’t been any parking,” he said.
Fleming hopes that, nationally, Main Street is protected more than Wall Street and that, locally, the city further tries to develop industries, like cannabis, that can help boost revenues. Specifically, Fleming suggested widening opportunities for cannabis workers in the testing and distribution, manufacturing and production areas, and ease the process by which farmers gain proper licensing.
“We are a cannabis county and we might as well embrace that safely,” he said.
Nevada City Councilwoman Erin Minett said she’s looking forward to analyzing the city’s budget at the May 20 meeting. As of late, she’s been pleased with how most residents are following proper guidelines, remaining sanitary and safe. She hopes those measures will continue.
“Wash your hands, don’t touch your face,” she said. “I hope people will wear masks, if nothing else to make other people feel comfortable.”
She, like other council members, said she doesn’t yet know how city finances will project, nor if cuts or furloughs will have to be made, but she said, like Strawser, that the city must be cautious and frugal moving forward.
“We’ll be very conservative with the budget we have.”
To contact Staff Writer Sam Corey, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4219.
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