Declining sales tax revenue is hurting Apache Junction’s budget for the next fiscal year, but no layoffs or cuts in city services are planned for now, city officials said. The city’s proposed General Fund budget for the next fiscal year is about $26 million. That’s down by $4 million from the current year.
The city’s General Fund revenue is expected to take a 6.5 percent hit from $26.2 million to $24.5 million in 2008-09.
Apache Junction employees should not expect any pay increases in 2008-09, and 10 current vacant positions will remain unfilled.
The city expects staffing attrition to lead to further vacancies.
“The economy has suffered and this organization has not escaped what the larger economy is experiencing,” City Manager George Hoffman said.
Assistant City Manager Bryant Powell said sales tax revenue has declined in the last five months or so. That revenue makes up a major portion of the General Fund revenue. City services such as parks and recreation and the library depend on the General Fund for their budgets.
The economic development and information technology department, among others, have been asked to trim spending wherever possible, without affecting the public, officials said at a draft budget meeting with the City Council earlier this week.
Projects such as the general plan update and a housing survey, for which a consultant would normally have been hired, are expected to be handled in-house.
Hoffman said the challenge would be to provide adequate staffing to handle demands on city services, which tend to go up in recessionary times.
The city’s library expansion programs continue. But no additional positions would be filled for the same.
The information technology department, which normally replaces outdated hardware and software every four years, is deferring those purchases for now.
City vehicles needing to be replaced also will be put on hold.
The police department’s proposed budget dips slightly from $9.8 million in 2007-08 to $9.5 million.
But Powell said there will be no reduction in public safety services. The city is currently finalizing the police chief’s position.
Vice Mayor R.E. Eck inquired whether there would be any other direct impact to the public, including any reduction in library services.
Hoffman said while nothing’s scheduled yet, they would have to watch how the economy plays out in the near future.
If there would be a need to cut back further, it would have to come from the library or parks and recreation services.
“We’re striving to maintain services, but at some point program offerings and hours of services will have to be looked into,” Hoffman said.
Mayor John Insalaco said the city was fortunate at this point to be in a better position than other Valley communities.
“George and his crew had an idea a couple years ago that we had a tight budget coming up so they prepared well,” Insalaco said.
The city also will consider use of volunteers, interns or part-time positions instead of full time, if need be in the future.
In addition, officials are debating whether or not to give employees a few additional holidays to compensate for the lack of pay increases.
The City Council is scheduled to adopt a tentative budget June 3 and finalize it June 16 or 17.