Thanks to a reorganization of city departments, a freezing of salaries and benefits, and the one-time use of some special funds, the Brea City Council approved a balanced operating budget for 2010-11 at its meeting Tuesday.
Administrative services director Bill Gallardo told the council that despite “unprecedented economic declines” that have affected tax revenue, city staffers were able to develop a “resourceful” budget that “continues to provide the fundamental and basic levels of service to the community.”
“We have worked hard to live within our means,” Gallardo said. “There’s no doubt we are a smaller and leaner organization, having to work harder and smarter and sometimes having to say no.”
General fund expenditures are budgeted at $51.9 million, a slight decrease from the 2009-10 budget of $53.3 million. Gallardo noted that this was done as the costs of materials and contracts continue to climb.
The reorganization, which staff said saved the city nearly $500,000, reduced city departments from nine to seven, with plans for a reduction to six.
Though three departments will eventually be eliminated, their duties are being shuffled to existing or newly merged departments. In doing this, the city eliminated the assistant city manager and the maintenance services director, both of whom were among eight employees who accepted buyouts. The city has a general hiring freeze.
- The first phase of the reorganization eliminated the General Services Department and the Developmental Services Department.
- The city clerk’s office, formerly part of General Services, moved to the Personnel Services Department, which was renamed.
- The information technology division, formerly part of General Services, moved to the Financial Services Department, which has been renamed Administrative Services.
- The city manager’s office now houses the communications and marketing division of General Services.
- The engineering division moved from Developmental Services to Maintenance Services, which was renamed Public Works.
- The planning division and the building and safety division, formerly of Developmental Services, moved to the Economic Development Department, which was renamed Community Development.
- Phase two of the reorganization, which has not begun, will roll the duties of the Personnel Services Department into the Administrative Services Department.
The city also expects $275,000 in savings as a result of a solar energy project that will place solar panels on the community, civic and cultural centers.
Despite these savings, the budget would have remained unbalanced if the city had not tapped into the capital improvement and mitigation fund to pay for capital improvement projects. Brea receives revenue for the fund from Orange County as part of a 2009 agreement that allowed expansion of the Olinda Alpha Landfill.
The City Council voted, 4-0, with Councilman Don Schweitzer absent, to approve the budget, and members expressed gratitude to the staff for its efforts in developing it.
“It’s nice that we have something here that’s presented to us as a balanced budget,” said Mayor Ron Garcia. “When I hear our counterparts across Orange County, Los Angeles County, across the state, those folks are in deep trouble. We’re the model that other communities look to say, ‘How did they do it?'”
Mayor Pro Tem Roy Moore called the budget a “significant accomplishment” but said caution will still be needed.
“Brea, given this economic condition, we’re on pretty solid footing,” Moore said. “We do have potential problems for the next few years, and we’ll be working on that, but I think this is really a good way to go.”
Councilman John Beauman said creativity was an important factor in dealing with the economic climate.
“You can’t help the economy, but I think we’ve been constructive in responding to it,” Beauman said.
— JUSTIN VELASCO