With over eight hours of presentations and staff reports completed, the next step for the fiscal year 2022/2023 budget is adopting it at the next Town Council meeting on June 21. All the details will be on the Town website, and a Budget Summary Document will show how things evolved along the way. Mayor John Dunbar summed it up perfectly; he explained that public access and information are readily available. The public is a part of this process with a “clear and thorough understanding of where the money is coming from and going to.” He also stated, “… (there are) things we have to do and things we want to do, and we are able to do both.”
Remember those emergency funds and contingency accounts I wrote about in the post on budget meeting #2? All the fund balance policies meet or exceed the criteria established by the Council. So, Councilmember Mohler wanted to know what emergency or contingency funds were drawn down in the previous year (specifically during the pandemic). NONE! Excellent when you think about it. Then what to do with the expected $2.7M in unassigned fund balance? The consensus of the Council was to wait until the current fiscal year ends in July to determine how to best use the funds. They all expressed the idea stated by the Mayor that “we can exceed the minimums on our own” (for the reserve and contingency funds). Meaning no need to change the current policies, which are very strong; just add a dollar amount to the funds. The Council will discuss other accounts as well. $ 2.7M represents plenty of opportunities.
Total expenditures for all funds for the fiscal year 2022/2023 would be $20,082,065 with a general fund balance of a little over $100,000. This leads to an ending general fund balance of $6,731,733. So there you have it. Let’s get into some of the details further.
Water and wastewater are both enterprise funds which means the Town cannot profit from these funds. A few enterprise fund basics: In July 1977, the Yountville Town Council established a policy that enterprise funds should be self-supporting; these funds are legislated by Prop 218, Prop 26, and Government Code 6600. As Town Manager Steve Rogers said, “Anything but simple.” Water and wastewater utility funds are doing well; buying water has increased, and “operating costs are not going to go down.” Even with reduced water usage, we are “paying more and will not see a reduced water cost.” When the Town completed the last utility rate study for 2018/2022, they assumed a 7% increase for the Water Utility Fund. It has turned out to be 18%. A water and wastewater utility rate study is underway for the upcoming five years.
The Town of Yountville purchases 100% of its water from the Veterans Home (Rector Reservoir). If there is a disruption (which happened several times in the past year), we then switch over to water from the City of Napa. The cost from Napa is double what we pay for water from the Vets Home. As a result of the drought and rising costs, the Town municipal well transitioned to an operational well. Rector reservoir allows us 400 acre-ft a year, and the well can provide ten acre-ft a month. Increased costs are associated with bringing the well online. Lots of discussion on how the Vets Home charges for water and how to better communicate and be proactive with the Vets Home (believe me, the Town is and has been working to make this happen). Water Purchase and Conservation – Fund 61-4507 is budgeted at $1,153,078. There is a Water Drought Reserve Fund – Fund 57-4507 at $1,965,29. We will be hearing all this and more during the rate utility study later this year.
Onto Wastewater Utility Fund. I learned something watching the meeting: collection (think storm drains) & pumping are in Collections Systems, and anything at the plant is Treatment Operations. There you have it, 3 hours and 13 min meeting; my takeaway. Wastewater expenses are shared with the Vets Home as the Town’s Treatment Operations handle the Vets Home wastewater. This fiscal year Fund 63 Wastewater Treatment Capital Recovery Fund 63-4518 will meet the reserve minimum established by the 2018 Utility Rate Study and reflect a positive unreserved fund balance. Once again, as the Mayor stated yet again, “luxury to have capital and not wait for failure.” Councilmember Knight had a fascinating conversation with Public Works Director John Ferons concerning pipes that flow out of the Treatment Operations. The engagement from the Council during this meeting was encouraging as to their research and feedback.
More highlights from the budget:
- Special Revenue Funds State Gas Tax Fund is $85,000 (prepare designs for the streets)
- Special Revenue Fund 25 – Measure T is $525,000
- Special Revenue Fund 26 SB1 is $66,000 (use for concrete (curb/gutters) in advance of street repair)
- Capital Improvements Fund 50 has $468,100 in work for the Town
- Facilities Repair & Replacement Fund 81 & Fleet, Tools & Equipment Repair & Replacement Fund 82. These funds aim to develop reserves to cover current and future repair and replacement needs. These projects are programmed in the 5 Year CIP (capital improvement project) and approved by the Town Council as part of the annual budget process. For example, there is $120,000 allocated for Fleet Replacement for EVs for the Town fleet
- Increase original budgeted Sales Tax revenue by $70,000
- Councilmember Mohler brought up the new Franchisee Fees that the Town will be getting from UVWM (Upper Valley Waste Management). She stressed the importance of a new fund to ensure transparency and earmarked for our roads.
I share most of this to show the reserves and long(er) term planning of the Council and Town staff. Excellent position to be in! As well as the fact that our facilities, Town and services are being maintained while the quality of life we experience in this Town takes work and planning.
The final budget discussion centered around positions for a Compliance Officer and an IT Manager. I had sent a public comment on this exact topic as I see both positions as vital for the future of the Town staff, especially as someone who watches/attends the meetings and sees the activity throughout our community. Town Manager Rogers came prepared for the dialog as the Compliance Officer was briefly touched on in budget workshop #2. This new position would represent $150,000 in salary. The same dollar amount would be required of an IT Manager. All Councilmembers weighed in at length on these two positions and whether they should be a consultant or in-house person. Councilmember Joe Tagliaboschi shared his experience as a Town employee and gave insight into the rigorous process of bringing on new positions in the past and how many of those jobs have evolved and grown. Julie Baldia, Deputy Director of Human Resources & IT, was asked for her thoughts and feedback as this would directly affect her, and she stated, “… would help me tremendously, it is growing a lot”, and, “… it’s just going to keep changing and evolving.”
Vice Mayor Marita Dorenbecher summed up this prolonged, detailed discussion when she stated, “I support both positions although I know we will take a lot of heat from some of the residents about it, but none the less you have to be prepared for the future, this is preparing us for the future.”
Budget workshops for the fiscal year 2022/2023 are in the books.
Want a shorter version of the fiscal year 2021/2022 budget? This document will give you a good overview of what to expect for the upcoming budget.
Watch the meeting and really understand how our Town operates and watch our Council in action.