Wednesday, May 19, 2010

City of Fairfield Set to Begin Prioritization

City Council set to begin review of future spending

FAIRFIELD - The final decision is 14 months away, but city leaders on Monday will start the process of making budget decisions for 2011 and 2012.

The Fairfield City Council has scheduled the special meeting to launch a 'priority-based budgeting process' -- a new approach it is taking as it prepares for an expected $8 million cut.

'The first step in that process is to help define priorities . . . and objectives for the city,' said David White, assistant to the city manager. 'Why do we come to work every day? What are we trying to do for the community?'
The city has hired the outside company Johnson & Fabian Advisory Group to run the process, which is expected to last four to five months.

After the council sets the goals Monday, White said the next step will be to figure out which programs the city already runs contribute to which goals. Employees, residents and businesses are being asked to contribute at that point.

The $8 million deficit is just a projection. The financial situation could improve or worsen by then depending in particular on tax income. But even if the number drops, it will mean potentially significant cuts.

In past years, the city balanced its books by eliminating mostly empty positions made vacant when people retired or took other jobs. With that option mostly exhausted, the city negotiated furloughs with most employee unions and layoffs with some.

Those aren't expected to end. More cuts are thought to be needed. The question is, where to cut?

Spending on public safety -- the police and fire departments -- makes up a huge majority of the city's basic spending. But council members have previously suggested that their top priorities are preserving those services as much as possible.

'In order to close the projected structural deficit, the city needs to pursue a holistic approach in which programs and services offered by the organization are consistent with the goals and objectives of (the) City Council, residents and businesses,' Finance Director Bob Leland wrote in a report to the council.

Reach Ben Antonius at 427-6977 or

No comments:

Post a Comment