Monday, June 06, 2005

Budget wise, things looking good in Dixon

Article Launched: 06/06/2005 07:27:51 AM
By David Henson/Staff Writer

Buoyed by healthy property and sales tax revenues, the city of Dixon's preliminary budget includes $432,000 worth of recommended new programs and personnel, several thousand dollars more than in recent years.

The staff-recommended additions to the fiscal year 2005-06 general fund budget come largely from several new or adjusted positions across seven departments, all of which City Manager Warren Salmons said are needed.

"It's natural. It is the change that happens with growth," he said. "We have the resources to make the changes if the council feels comfortable with them."

The City Council will begin tonight the first of two workshops on the budget and likely will dis- cuss some of the recommendations.

In recent yearly budgets, new personnel or program requests usually hovered around $100,000 to $150,000, and as a result, Financial Director Peggy Lefebvre said there is something of a backlog in requests.

"We've been a bit pent up in requests for new programs because of the state budget and because we've tried to hold the line and be cautious," said Lefebvre. "The needs are there and the revenue is there. Aside from what the state does, we're growing."

That's not to say, though, the city's preliminary budget for 2005-06 flings around money. Lefebvre said the budget is still conservative.

The city is anticipating about $13.3 million in revenue and spending only $12.6 million, not including the recommended new programs and personnel.

"If you look at the status quo, with no new programs, it's pretty flat," Lefebvre said.

Further, the city consistently receives about 6 percent more revenue than expected and spends 6 percent less than predicted. For example, for the fiscal year 2004-05, the city is projected to exceed expected revenue by $400,000, thanks in large part to increased property taxes and sales and use tax.

For 2005-06, the city is factoring in only 3 percent changes in the budget to reflect its historic trends.

The budget does not include any extra costs associated with the contract negotiations with the Dixon Professional Firefighters' Association or with senior managers, but Lefebvre said the budget will be able to absorb any change.

Salmons said that the budget is both stable and healthy.

Of the new personnel recommended, Dixon's public safety arm would benefit heavily as the proposed positions would help stem excess overtime and increase residents' access to the departments.

In the budget, staff advises that the council create one new police officer position and increase the department's community service officer to full-time status.

The positions would allow the police department to keep its office open later at night and during weekends. In addition, it would increase police officers on duty nights and weekends, Chief Don Mort said.

"As the community grows and moves forward, these positions will give us the flexibility to have at least three officers on at all times," he added.

Moreover, the Dixon Fire Department would be authorized three new firefighter paramedics, which would alleviate excessive overtime and working hours.

David Henson can be reached at

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