The Sacramento city council begins its budget hearings this week on a spending proposal that includes restorations for police, fire and parks - but doesn't address the city's long-term liabilities.
An end to fire department brownouts. More cops on the streets. And cleaner park bathrooms. There's much the city of Sacramento can do now that it has a budget surplus.
The half-cent sales tax increase approved by voters in 2012 is finally taking full effect. The city manager's budget proposal for the fiscal year that starts in July includes a net gain of 150 police officers, 95 fire fighters and 73 new parks and recreation positions. But even the recovering economy can't hold off the city's rising retirement liabilities - or the eventual expiration of the sales tax increase.
But the city's current $2 million surplus could disintegrate into a $40 million deficit within five years. “We’ve got to be responsible and we can’t just keep spending," says Finance Director Leyne Milstein. "Just because it’s there doesn’t mean we should spend it."
Whether to spend any of this year's surplus is up to the mayor and city council. They'll take their first look at the city manager's proposal at Thursday night's council meeting.