Serving the community since 1970

A tale of two budgets: Getting set for deficit

The City Council unanimously approved a budget for 2020-21 that includes a $1.3 million operating deficit.

The city's biggest expense is for safety (contracts with the Kern County Fire Department and Sheriff's Office), accounting for nearly a third of the budget.

The city will be paying more for the Kern County Fire Department contract to run for one more year and the contract for the Kern County Sheriff's Office will increase to almost $4.1 million for 2020-2021. The KCSO contract expires June 30, 2021.

The General Fund budget shows that revenues will be $14.6 million in 2020-21 and expenditures will be $15.9 million, creating a $1.3 million deficit.

Both the Kern County Fire Department and the Kern County Sheriff's Department contracts increased in cost to the city.

In his presentation, City Manager Daniel Ortiz-Hernandez said that the impact of Covid-19 on the city would include a decline in revenue.

But it could have been worse.

"Because Wasco does not depend on tourism as a source of money revenue to the city and because the city has the largest local sales tax [due to Measure X] that continued during the "shelter-in-place" order by the governor," the city was not as impacted by the virus pandemic as it could have bene, Ortiz-Hernandez said at a meeting.

Expenditures increased by $10.6 million due to the cost of the labor camp's demolition, the inclusion of the Street Maintenance Division in the General Fund for the first time and the funding of funding of high-priority capital projects.

Those projects include completion of a new water well and repairing of two others, plus any TCP 123 treatment that is necessary, along with the razing of the former labor camp buildings on the property.

Required road work also will be included in capital projects as necessary.


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