Finance director says revenues on target

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

After a turbulent last few budget cycles — filled with midyear cuts from upper levels of government, underperforming revenues and even funding streams that have been cut off altogether — Ridgecrest Finance Director Rachelle McQuiston reported to the city council last week that once all revenue streams are taken into account, the city is on target for matching expenditures with projected income.

City Manager Dennis Speer told the council last fall that the city had a $1.3-million structural deficit as a result of funding obligations inadvertently left out of the budget and some underperforming revenues. The fiscal picture grew grimmer as painted by the auditor, who told the council that they were facing a crisis in light of that deficit, coupled with a 37-percent negative balance in the general fund.

Although details of the proposed budget have not been released yet, McQuiston said that Measure L has helped the city maintain a balanced budget.

She said that by the end of the fiscal year, she expects to see a $103,000 surplus in the general fund and a $63,000 surplus in the gas fund.

On the other end of the spectrum, transient occupancy tax generated only $1 million in revenue, compared to the $1.2 million budgeted.

“Thank you for that good news,” said Mayor Dan Clark. “I expected that number to be about 50 percent. This is very good news for our budget.”

Paul Vander Werf said that in light of the concern expressed by the auditor, he was troubled by the city having only a 1-percent reserve to buffer the city from whatever fiscal uncertainty the future may hold.

McQuiston replied that the city is lucky to have even that much.

Vander Werf said he would like to see the city working toward building up a 20-percent reserve, which was the best practice recommended by the auditor.

Story First Published: 2013-05-22