WALNUT CREEK -- City leaders are sounding the alarm.
Financial forecasts reaching as far as 2022 show the city will face a yearly $2 million deficit. That does not factor in any employee pay raises, continued library hours or all the necessary maintenance and replacement of city roads and buildings; the deficits grow by millions more when those are added.
While these problems have been on the horizon for some time, the City Council began Tuesday -- and will continue over its next several meetings -- to hash out how specific programs and services should run and whether changes need to be made in an effort to cut costs and maximize revenue.
The city will have to reduce services, find alternative ways to deliver the services, increase revenues or some combination to balance future budgets.
"Frankly, Walnut Creek is not going to be able to provide services at current levels," City Manager Ken Nordhoff told the council Tuesday.
The council looked at the operation of Boundary Oak Golf Course and downtown parking management. Both have been analyzed for how they operate and for prospective more cost-effective ways to make it happen.
Questions such as if Boundary Oak should be managed in a different way or even if the course should be closed and the land sold, were laid on the table. Council decided they didn't really want to make changes to the course, which officials say is self sustaining and able to operate on the fees it
Councilman Bob Simmons questioned the need for the city to set golf fees. Barry Gordon, the city's director of arts, recreation and community services, said he believed it had been set up that way in the past so the public feels assured that the city has control over the fees.
"It may be time for the city to get out of the (golf course) fee-setting business," said Simmons.
These are not the last city services and programs the council will look at. Upcoming meetings and their main topics of conversation include:
All meetings will be held at City Hall 1666 N. Main St. and are open to the public.
Ultimately, the changes the council wants will help set the future two-year budget. City leaders say it also is possible, perhaps likely, that even if major changes are made they will not produce enough in savings to close budget gaps.
New revenue such as taxes have not been formally floated. But the city's Blue Ribbon Task Force concluded in its final report in 2011 that the sales tax must be increased to pay for all of the city's needs.
Contact Elisabeth Nardi at 925-952-2617. Follow her at Twitter.com/enardi10.