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A tale of two budgets: Shafter sales tax decline seen

The Shafter City Council held a special meeting on Tuesday night and approved the budget for 2020-21with a unanimous vote.

The budget proposal was the same one that had been discussed over the past few weeks with minor changes.

The budget projects a 7.5% decrease in sales tax revenue, with there still being a chance, according to City Manager Gabriel Gonzales, of stronger performance because of the position of online retail sales, led by Williams Sonoma. The housewares company has a call center near Minter Field.

In one change to the final budget is the hiring of all four police officer positions that are vacant.

The two additional budget hirings will cost about $200,000. Gonzales said that funds saved from other areas of the budget will pay for the positions.

In the budget summation, it was stated that many organizations take "use it or lose it" as a guide to spending, but it isn't here. It said it is unlikely that the city will spend all of its allotted funds by the end of the fiscal year. In addition to these "savings," the Police Department is cutting almost $37,000 out of its budget to contribute to the hirings.

When asked by Councilmember Chad Givens and Cathy Prout if these savings were actual savings or just assumptions that the city would not use all of its funds by the end of the year, Gonzales said, "Yes, it is assumed that the city will not use all of its allotted funds so there will be a savings there that will cover the cost of the additional officers." Givens asked what would happen in the unlikelihood that the money was spent, and he was told that they would have to approach the council at that time for the funding.

According to Prout, the aim was to not have to dip into the "unassigned" monies that the city has saved.

The approved budget depends on the relatively strong performance in the sales tax revenue that is being projected for this coming fiscal year

The budget delays the majority of the capital improvement projects originally scheduled for completion in the 2020-21 fiscal year ending June 30.


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