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Elk Grove Citizen

Council Delays Budget Vote

Jun 20, 2024 09:45AM ● By Matthew Malone
ELK GROVE, CA (MPG) - Elk Grove City Council on June 12 took a second look at the proposed budget for fiscal year 2024-25 but it held off on a vote so that all councilmembers could have a say.
City Council agreed to postpone the final vote until its June 26 regular meeting because Councilmember Darren Suen was absent on June 12.
The budget increased by $1.3 million over the initial presentation on May 22. Budget manager Nathan Bagwill said this additional spending included a $1 million increase to Wilton Rancheria because of revised project costs for Kammerer Road, $1 million more expected from state grants for the Elk Grove library relocation, as well as a reduction in expected gas tax and an increase in funds for the city’s curb ramp project.
In a Capital Improvement Program preview, which will be presented at a future meeting, Bagwill listed projects that will advance in fiscal year 2024-25, including trails, library, storm drain and pavement improvements, as well as the Kammerer extension to Bruceville Road.
Bagwill said the city will spend its share of Measure E sales tax revenue on a variety of items based on community priorities, such as additional police officers and license plate reader cameras to address the interest in reducing crime. Money will go toward homeless shelter options and subsidies to support permanent housing. Graffiti abatement efforts, a facade improvement plan and an Elk Grove Automall master plan will also get funding.
Measure E will also fund traffic light enhancements and an overlay of Laguna Boulevard from Laguna Springs Drive to Bruceville.
The budget included the equivalent of 15 new full-time positions. Measure E will fund two police officers and two dispatch supervisors. The General Fund will pay for a communications and marketing specialist and two veterinary employees, and boost an administrative assistant from part time to full time.
Seven of the positions are conversions from contract workers to city staff: five engineering positions, a construction supervisor and an administrative assistant.
In five-year projections for the various city funds, Bagwill anticipated moderate growth in gas tax income from $5.05 million in the current fiscal year to $5.36 million in 2028-29.
Public commenter Lynn Wheat recommended putting Measure E money toward murals or ivy for regularly defaced walls. She questioned the importance of economic development for community members compared to traffic, homelessness and other issues.
Answering a question on the gas tax projections from Councilmember Kevin Spease, Bagwill said the city gets the estimates from the League of California Cities. 
When Spease noted an increasing number of fuel-efficient and electric cars, finance director Matthew Paulin said this currently has a relatively small impact; he also noted consideration of changes to how the state accounts for road usage in ways that also charge electric-car owners.
Spease agreed with the spending on graffiti and litter abatement and homelessness. He supported Wheat’s suggestion of ivy plantings.
Spease and other councilmembers praised the city’s favorable financial position, which they partly attributed to Measure E’s passage.
Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen called it “compelling” that there were no cuts to jobs or services, saying it was the aspect of the document that stood out to her most. Singh-Allen commended the budgeting process and Measure E allocations.
Councilmember Sergio Robles asked about recycling and waste collection, noting that since the repayment of bonds for the city’s special waste collection center, the related fund has been accruing money. 
Staff said the funds would go to repairs and expansion of the center, as well as adding service on Saturdays.
Vice-Mayor Rod Brewer said the budget is “consistent to where we are as a city. We’re providing safety, resiliency. It’s in tune with our values. It’s in tune with our focus on what we want to do with infrastructure and now we can actually focus on the next five years.”
Brewer supported graffiti abatement but he voiced concern about the infrastructure deterioration that ivy might cause.