Fresno's Growing Cash Crunch

January 5, 2009 7:31:22 PM PST
One day before the new mayor takes office, Fresno City leaders warned the city may face tougher financial times ahead.Ashley Swearengin will be sworn in as Fresno's Mayor, Tuesday, but, she joined outgoing Mayor Alan Autry in revealing that the nation's economic slump will have an impact on the city budget.

Fresno Mayor Alan Autry is leaving the city with a more than four million dollar budget surplus, and a reserve of more than $17 million. But the city's financial future is not as bright as it may seem.

"Fiscal year 2010 projections will reflect a decrease in revenue at the same time, cost of personnel and retirement are growing by $11.2 million," said Autry.

To deal with that, city department heads are being asked to come up with cutbacks of from three to five per cent this year, and of from five to seven per cent next year. Both Autry and incoming Mayor Ashley Swearengin say the citys more than $17 million dollar surplus should not be tapped to cover any shortfall.

"I'm not gonna support in my last day. Going into our reserve," said Autry.

"My philosophy about the reserve is that is set aside for truly a state of emergency, a natural disaster of some sort," said Swearengin.

So, at this point, it's not at all clear to city leaders what kind of cuts if any will be made.

"My expectation is that we will find ways to deliver services at the same level by being more efficient," said Swearengin.

The problem for the incoming mayor is the revenue projections aren't in, and the city could see a loss of state revenue. In addition, the slumping national economy could mean more financial problems for the city.

With so many unknowns, the purpose of Monday's announcement was a sort of a public passing of the budget baton from Autry, to Swearengin.

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