MARTINEZ -- Fewer parking tickets, a loss of car registration revenue and a billboard dispute are a few of the reasons Martinez has missed its budget target by $51,000.
Last year when Martinez adopted the $37 million budget for fiscal years 2011-13, it projected that revenues would exceed expenditures by just $1,993 in the first year and $2,285 in the second.
But sales and property tax has remained flat and a few other revenue sources are lower than expected, resulting in the $51,000 adjustment to the budget the council approved last week.
Compared to the projections included in the budget, parking ticket revenue is down by $55,000 and tow releases are down by $21,000. The state also took $135,000 in vehicle license fees from the city.
There are also a few sources of extra revenue, including $20,000 from the state in reimbursements for police training, $175,000 rebate for workers' compensation and liability, and $15,000 for inspection fee increases for utility companies working in the public right of way.
Salaries and benefits consume the largest share of the general fund. Last year, the council froze or eliminated positions and cut part-time hours to close an $800,000 deficit in the first year of the budget.
The budget froze two police officer positions, a dispatcher job and the assistant engineer position for two years; freezes a maintenance job for one year; converts a code enforcement position to part time; and
The city expects to save $130,836 due to lower heath care premiums and changes in the benefits employees receive, such as increases for office visit co-pays and prescriptions. Although the new contracts gradually increase employees' retirement contributions, Martinez is projecting a $151,409 increase in its CalPERS costs.
Four years after the housing bubble burst, property tax revenue remains flat. Although the city had projected sales tax increases of about 3 percent in the budget's first year and nearly 7 percent in fiscal year 2012, the revised budget reflects an expectation that sales tax dollars will remain flat, according to Alan Shear, assistant city manager.
A bonus pot of money from billboard ads has been delayed due to a dispute over landscaping.
The billboard stands just south of the Benicia-Martinez bridge toll plaza on Bridgehead Road, which runs along the west side of Interstate 680. CBS Outdoor Inc., which owns the billboard, wants to replace it with a LED sign. Under an agreement reached with the city last year, Martinez will get free advertising space on the billboard and 11 percent of the ad revenue, estimated at $120,000 to $160,000 per year.
The city had included $62,500 in billboard proceeds in the 2011 fiscal year budget. But CBS Outdoor and Caltrans are still haggling over the location for the billboard and long-term plans for maintaining the grounds around the sign.
"We don't anticipate it being up until the end of the year," said Michael Chandler, senior management analyst for the city. "We're just waiting for those parties to work it out between themselves."
Lisa P. White covers Martinez and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.