In the past three years, city officials in Paso Robles have cut staff 35 percent through attrition, instituted a hiring freeze and cut road maintenance to address multimillion-dollar deficits.
Now they plan to dip into reserves to cover a $2.1 million shortfall for the next three fiscal years.
This coming year, the city’s general fund budget will be roughly $24 million.
As part of its cost-cutting plan, the city will trim $700,000 from its budget annually for the next five years. Those savings will be possible thanks to the closing of Centennial Pool and a teen center, among other changes that started in February 2011. Those programs are slated to stay closed until 2015.
Although the city made a list of worst-case scenario cuts, it did not need to slash staffing or programs as severely as expected because of a host of cost-saving measures.
Twelve retirements announced since February will reduce expenses over the next five years.
City employees this month agreed to defer pay raises for a third consecutive year. Maintenance contracts have also been axed.
These actions should help the city balance the general fund by 2015. By then, the city’s rainy day fund should be replenished to the roughly $10.4 million it is at today, Administrative Services Director Jim Throop said.
The general fund budget is forecast to fluctuate around $25 million over the next five years.
According to the city’s newest projections, two years of surplus could come in fiscal years 2014 and 2015.
If sales, property and transient occupancy tax incomes don’t see slight increases as the forecast predicts, city staff came up with several options for bringing in about $1.2 million in additional annual savings. The savings would come mainly from cutting positions in areas that the city has identified for elimination if deficits increase, a list Councilman Ed Steinbeck referred to as an “Armageddon list of cuts.”
Those cuts include possibly closing the senior center, reducing library hours, closing the other city pool, cutting all city event staffing and eliminating all marketing contracts to help attract tourists.