Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Suisun City Budget Healthier Than Expected

Suisun City Budget Healthier Than Expected
By Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - A healthier than expected budget picture will allow Suisun City Councilmembers to consider improving city services and better compensating city employees.

The first step in considering these, along with other goals, will take place on Feb. 20 when the council sets its priorities for the coming fiscal year.

The council also voted to impose a diluted version of a false alarm ordinance that would fine residents and businesses for having police respond to two or more false alarms within a three-month period.

Councilmembers were pleased Tuesday night to hear that Suisun City is predicted to end its budget year with a surplus that could reach up to $600,000.

This is about double the surplus the city initially anticipated when it adopted the 2006-07 budget last summer.

Mayor Pete Sanchez stated this is "always good news" when it allows the council to consider using the money to improve city services, reexamining city projects that were shelved due to tight budgets and to make city employee pay more competitive with other cities.

Councilmember Sam Derting voiced concern about the city's growing reserve fund and asked that the council reassess its policies on how much money to put into reserves.

City coffers are collecting $1.2 million more in revenue than was expected six months ago, increasing reserves from $4.7 million to roughly $6 million, Assistant City Manager Ron Anderson told the council.

Several proposed business projects could further improve the city's fiscal health and help officials further revive the city's business climate.

These include the Suisun City Marketplace project at Highway 12 and Pennsylvania Avenue which could have 481,000 square feet of retail space and 232 single-family homes, the Wal-Mart Supercenter at Highway 12 and Walters Road, and the Waterfront Hotel next to One Harbor Center.

Together, these are expected to create almost 1,700 jobs, up to $2.45 million in sales taxes and $300,000 in transient occupancy taxes, if they all built.

In other business, the council retooled a proposed false alarm ordinance that originally required people pay $100 for a second false alarm and $250 for a third false alarm within a three-month period.

It had also proposed that alarm owners pay $30 to register their alarms with the police and then $15 a year afterwards.

The council, in a 3-2 vote, tossed out the annual registration fee and cut the fines to $50 for the second false alarm and $100 for the third one within a three-month period.

The police asked for the ordinance in an effort to prompt people to better maintain their alarms and cut down the growing number of false alarms the police have to respond to.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or

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