City of Alameda Online Budget Challenge

City of Alameda Online Budget Challenge
 
PRESS RELEASE
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
City of Alameda Announces Series of Targeted Budget Cuts and Tax Increases to Balance 2013-14 Budget
 
Faced with an impending budget deficit of $4.4 million caused by a combination of rising expenditures flat revenues, the City of Alameda has implemented a series of cuts to programs funded by the General fund, as well as minimal increases in certain taxes, to assure a balanced budget for Fiscal Year 2012-13. Before a detailed description of these actions is given, the City of Alameda would like to make clear for all citizens that the proscribed measures are temporary in nature, with the objective being to guide the city through a prolonged recession while assuring financial solvency. With that said, every major department which draws funding from the city’s General Fund will absorb budget cuts that are similar to those enacted last year, so that organizational challenges can be anticipated and mitigated effectively.
 
The following departments will have their budgets reduced during the upcoming Fiscal Year 2012-13:
 
Capital Projects — 25% (approximately $40,000)
 
Public Works — 10% (approximately $120,000)
 
Fire Department — 5% (approximately $1.126 million)
 
General Government — 5% (approximately $400,000)
 
Police Department — 2.5% (approximately $700,000)
 
Recreation and Parks — 2.5% (approximately $100,000)
 
Libraries — 2.5% (approximately $55,000)
 
The following tax rates will be raised during the upcoming Fiscal Year 2012-13:
 
Sales Tax — Increased from 8.75% to 9.00%, ($930,000 raised revenue)
 
Utility User Tax — Increased from 7.5% to 8.00% ($900,000 raised revenue)
 
Transient Occupancy Tax — Increased from 10% to 12% ($200,000 raised revenue)
 
While these budgetary decisions were extremely difficult to make, they are vitally necessary to ensuring the future financial prosperity of all City of Alameda residents. Citizens are understandably concerned about the reductions in funding for the Police and Fire departments, and their grievances have been heard, however, multiple studies have demonstrated that similar cuts put in place last year had no noticeable effect on response times or quality of service. That is a testament to the courage and commitment of our city’s public servants, and while they will be expected to shoulder the burden again this year, the City of Alameda is confident that emergency situations will be handled with the proper level of professionalism.
 
The cuts to General Government operations, Public Works, and Capital Projects are all examples of the kind of “belt-tightening” that is needed during a down economy, and city managers have already developed a number of strategies to increase efficiency, reduce waste, and streamline the operations of vital government services.
 
The tax increases described above presented the City of Alameda with the most challenging dilemma during this budget recalibration, however, it was clear that additional revenues would be needed to close the widening shortfall. To reduce the impact of tax increases on our city’s residents, the Transient Occupancy Tax that is levied on tourists and visitors who stay in the city’s assortment of hotel, motel, inn, and lodging options has been raised to its maximum allowable level. The sales tax increase of 0.25% is minimal, and indeed keeps the City of Alameda below the national average for municipal sales tax rates.
 
Our nation, our state, and our city have endured five years of extended economic recession, and although the news announced today may signal to some that there is no end in sight, the City of Alameda would like to assure its citizens that these temporary measures will be monitored diligently. The moment revenue streams improve to the levels enjoyed prior to the recession, budgets for public departments will be restored and taxes will be reduced to previously established rates.
 
For more information, please contact the City of Alameda’s City Manager.

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