City Optimistic About its Financial Future

City of Alameda    Among the things the city budget affords local residents are the many varied presentations and programs at Alameda libraries, like the one pictured above.

The city recently released its financial report for the fiscal year ending on June 30, 2017. It will present the findings to the City Council at its Tuesday, Feb. 6, meeting. According to the report, the city has been able to maintain General Fund reserves in excess of the City Council’s established level.

The City Council established both a 20 percent reserve policy and a 5 percent contingency reserve policy, measured in proportion to the budgeted expenditures and transfers out. As the 2017 fiscal year ended, the General Fund available balance was $28.7 million — 31 percent of the year’s appropriations, or 11 percent contingency reserve — 6 percent higher than the contingency  the City Council established. 

During the fiscal year ending last June, the total actual revenue and transfers in for the General Fund equaled $93 million. This exceeded projections by $4.2 million, or 5 percent. The total actual expenditures and transfers out for the General Fund were $84.4 million — $7.3 million, or 7.5 percent, less than the final budget.

Increased home values resulted in corresponding increases in property and transfer taxes. These exceeded the budget by $3.1 million, the report says. Additionally, revenue from charges for services exceeded projections by $1 million, due in large part to unanticipated receipt of ground emergency medical transportation reimbursements by the Alameda Fire Department. 

Overall, actual expenditures came in at $7.2 million below appropriations. The report cites fiscal vigilance across city departments in helping to reduce costs. Personnel vacancies, mainly in the Alameda Police Department, also played a role, the report stated.

The city’s economy continues to grow after years of recession. Property values have increased and are expected to grow as a result of the construction of new homes and the continuing appreciation of property values. In addition, the city is forecasting taxable retail sales to increase thanks to new retail developments. 

However, the report points out that the city is tempering its optimism due in part to an increase in the cost of services, particularly as the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) employer pension contribution rates continue to increase. In addition, the city expects employee benefits to increase by an average of 3 percent per year. These funds will be supplemented by employee payroll contributions.

A copy of the 204-page report is posted on the city’s website at http://alamedaca.gov/finance).